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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - Scotland

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - North East Region

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - South West Region

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas