• Jelle Visser
Part of the The Societies of Europe book series (SOEU)


Discontinuities in both pre- and post-war industrial relations and union development in Italy are pronounced. Before 1945, democratic development and genuine union organization were interrupted by more than two decades of fascist violence and dictatorship, starting in 1922. Before World War I, there had hardly been two decades of union organizing, and that was along deeply divided patterns of socialist or reformist, revolutionary or anarcho-syndicalist, and Catholic or class collaborationist ideology. Further characteristics of Italy’s union movement were the uneven regional development, the strong impact of agricultural workers’ and peasant unions, and the conflicts between local and national trade or industry-based union structures. All of these conflicts and divisions, except revolutionary syndicalism, resurfaced after 1945. A brief phase of democratic reconstruction was followed by twenty years of labour exclusion, employer authoritarianism and a weak and divided union movement. This was radically changed by the explosion of worker discontent, a cycle of social and political mobilization (1968–73), the introduction of new union and worker rights in the workplace (1970), a rapid growth of unionization (1969–77), close co-operation between the unions and increasing union power in both the industrial and political arenas. This phase came to an end in the final years of the 1970s. In the 1980s, unions lost influence and bargaining power, internal divisions reappeared, and fractures between central policies and local practices increased in a general climate of stagnating membership and lower participation. The dramatic events of the early 1990s, the overhaul of Italy’s electoral and party system, the downfall of the Christian Democrats (Italy’s governing party for 48 years), the corruption scandals, the dimensions of the crisis of Italy’s public finances and the pressure of European integration all represent a major transition in Italian political and industrial relations. The year 1993 may be as important as 1969 or 1945 was. Unions regained strength, as they stood firm where parties faltered.


Private Sector Public Sector Collective Bargaining Industrial Relation Union Membership 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser 2000

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  • Jelle Visser

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