Teachers celebrate victory over Italian discrimination

For years they have been working alongside their Italian colleagues, teaching English and other languages to classes sometimes numbering 150, earning a fraction of the Italians' salary and enjoying none of their perks.

Successive court victories in their long campaign have only brought further discrimination against them, and in dozens of cases suspension or dismissal.

Foreign university teachers in Italy finally got something to celebrate about yesterday when the European Commission asked the European Court of Justice to fine Italy nearly €310,000 (£210,000) per day because of the discrimination against them.

It is only the third time that an EU member state has been threatened with a fine, and the first time for discrimination.

The size of the proposed fine - far higher than the €250,000 figure that had been suggested - reflects the Commission's impatience after the Italian government had avoided correcting the injustice that has been repeatedly condemned in resolutions of the European Parliament and by the European Court of Justice.

David Petrie, who is chairman of the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy, said: "When I formed the association in 1997, I said the Italian state intended to go the full 15 rounds. I would say we are now in round 15, and this fine will be the knock-out punch."

About 1,000 foreigners are employed teaching foreign languages in universities across Italy; 40 per cent teach English. They have never been entitled to the open-ended contracts enjoyed by Italian university teachers. Seventeen years ago they were employed on one-year contracts that could be extended up to five times.

A Spanish teacher at the University of Venice, Pilar Allue, challenged this in the Italian courts in 1986. Three years later the European Court of Justice ruled in her favour. It was a clear-cut verdict, but Italy spent the subsequent 13 years evading its implications. The most recent condemnation by the European court came in June 2001.

The government's latest attempt to absolve itself was a law passed last month that defined foreign teachers on a par with the lowest, part-time grade of Italian teachers for the purpose of calculating their salary.

The Commission's decision makes it clear that it regards this as utterly inadequate.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor