The referendum questions promoted by the CGIL, known as “referendums on the employment law”, undoubtedly have the capacity to trigger strong conflicts between those who hope for a more stable labor market and those who, on the contrary, complain about the excess of constraints which nevertheless slow down the market. It is enough to see the positions taken by numerous political leaders, even from the same camp, divided on adherence to the project (Elly Schlein decided to sign the referendums, other members of her party are against) to understand that these referendums have already become a flag: the fight against the Jobs Act is one with the fight (or support) for a certain vision of the labor market. The great evocative power of the questions, however, seems to be the result of a great misunderstanding: these questions, even if they were approved, would not have a real impact on the discipline of dismissals. To give substance to this statement, let's see what the different proposals say (let's leave aside the question of public procurement which, although touching on an important subject, has nothing to do with layoffs, precarious employment and employment law).

The first question actually aims to repeal the “increasing protection contract”, the reform approved by the Renzi government in 2015 (legislative decree 23/2015); we read on the CGIL website that this referendum aims to “give all workers the right to reinstatement in employment in the event of illegitimate dismissal”. A legitimate, although debatable, objective: this is not the subject we are addressing here. The problem is that if the referendum question were successful, leading to the repeal of Renzi's highly contested reform, the question of dismissals would remain regulated for all by art. 18 of the status of workers, which has changed profoundly since 2012 (with the Fornero law).

In the version of art still in force today. 18, reintegration into the workplace is only possible in certain cases, exactly as happens in the Employment Act: in fact, the compensation protection in the event of economic dismissal is less extensive than that of the reform of 2015 (art. 18 limits compensation to 24 months, the Employment Law can go up to 36 months), thanks to the corrective interventions carried out by the first Conte government. It remains, between art. 18 and Legislative Decree 23/2015, small technical differences on the cases of application of reintegration: however, in recent years these differences have been totally eliminated by jurisprudence, to the point that the most attentive technicians now consider the two substantially equivalent disciplines. The first question therefore proposes a repeal which would be completely irrelevant: a paradoxical consequence, which escapes even the most fierce defenders of the “contract with increasing protections”, who launch calls “not to return to reintegration” without realizing that they denounce a non-existent risk.

The impact of the second referendum question would be much broader, that relating to dismissals in companies not exceeding 15 employees: it is proposed to extend to these companies, in which only compensation protection exists in the event of dismissal illegitimate, ordinary law regulation of art. 18. A disruptive request, which has nothing to do with the employment law: the law which distinguishes small and large companies dates from 1966 (law no. 604), no one has ever thought of repealing it and , therefore, it is at least imaginative to relate it to employment law.

Even the third question, that on fixed-term work, is very different from the way it is presented in the media. The referendum intends to reintroduce the obligation to introduce for any fixed-term contract what is called the reason, the motivation of the reasons for which the contract is used. An obligation that no longer exists since 2012 (Fornero reform), with various variants (the employment law had extended the exemption, the decree on dignity of Luigi Di Maio and the subsequent decree on work of the Meloni government have set different and stricter limits): here too, the referendum has little or nothing to do with the original employment law. An issue presented as a “fight against precarious employment” but which, on closer inspection, would have a very different effect: if approved, it would limit fixed-term contracts, which benefit from all labor protections employee, while she would leave casual relationships unchanged, false VAT numbers, co.co.co. irregular and pirated contracts. In short, a fight against precariousness that is, to say the least, imprecise and incomplete…

It is therefore an indisputable fact that the “Jobs Act referendums” use the Jobs Act as a symbol, as a negative flag to wave to warm the hearts of voters, but they speak of different things than those announced: we achieve the day after the referendum, if signatures were found and a quorum reached). The referendum campaign confirms that slogans have now taken precedence over content analysis in political communication: a method – a curious revenge of history, used generously by Renzi himself when he launched this reform with slides – which brings short-term benefits but prevents us from addressing and solving real problems.

Photo 14487049 © Chrisalleaume | Dreamstime.com

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