Anti-union behaviours in Italy:

Are considered anti-union behaviours those behaviours adopted by the employer with the intention of denying or limiting the exercise of trade union freedom and activity, as well as the right to strike. Although it has been expressly declared illegal by Article 28 of the Workers’ Statute , anti-union activity or behaviour has not been given a standard definition in law. The term “behaviour” is to be understood in a wide sense, and includes not only purely material actions (such as threats or intimidation) but also omissions (such as refusal to promote committed trade unionists). As regards the interest protected, this is varied in nature, i.e. it is characterized by the interdependence of individual and group interests (consequently certain anti-union behaviour is described as multi-offensive).

The provision applies solely to employers and not to employers’ associations as well.

It is up to the judge to assess anti-union behaviour and to distinguish it from purely antagonistic behaviour, which is perfectly legitimate within a system of industrial relations of the adversarial type. The process of repression of employers’ anti-union behaviour introduced by the same Article 28 provides that, when appealed to by the local bodies of the national trade union associations concerned, the “pretore” (judge of first instance) of the place where the alleged behaviour has taken place shall summon the parties within the next two days and, assuming that adequate information is provided to support the charge of anti-union behaviour, order that it should cease and that its effects should be eliminated.

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