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Difficult times in school services5th of May 2014
Government cuts are bringing uncertainty about the cleaning of schools in Italy, reports Anna Garbagna.
There is uncertainty about cleaning services for 4,000 school buildings across Italy - a reduction in personnel of around 11,000 operatives and a tax of about 15 million euros will weigh on companies following the government’s decision. This is the discouraging scenario discussed recently by the presidents of the three associations representing the cleaning and multiservices sector’s companies: Lorenzo Mattioli (ANIP FISE/Confindustria), Fabrizio Bolzoni (Legacoop Servizi) and Massimo Stronati (Federlavoro/Confcooperative).
But this is not an unforeseen emergency, unfortunately it is an expected situation which was brought to the attention of the government and the ministry of education several times by those trade associations.
All this originated from the cuts effected by the previous executive which have reduced the funds allocated for cleaning in schools by 48 per cent for 2014 - from 545 million to 284 million euros. Expenditure for cleaning services drops from one per cent to 0.5 per cent of the ministry of education budget.
To the reduction of resources must be added their allocation, by region and by school, based on criteria which very often don’t match the real needs of individual situations so that in some cases there could be lack of resources while in others there will be a surplus.
The Stability Law had planned for a two month extension, in which a technical committee led by ministers of education, work and economic development with local governments, companies and unions would have identified solutions for the occupational issues connected to the management of cleaning services. Unfortunately the meetings did not deliver positive results partly due to the different points of view of the representatives from the different institutional levels.
“The era of excessive state aid has ended,” declared Lorenzo Mattioli. “We as companies want to supply services on a free market, without acting as a social security cushion as has happened up to now. Cleaning companies are not asking for more money, they want to contribute to achieve more efficient and more modern schools. Consip tenders are good in this respect as they will make public expenditure more efficient.
“We must reverse course: the criteria must no longer guarantee salaries but must pay for services in a fair way. Only this way we will be able to guarantee and to promote occupational levels as well as fighting the waste of public resources”.
To make the situation even more serious for the sector, there is the ASPI ‘tax on job termination’ which companies will have to pay to cleaners who lose their job due to the spending cuts in spending decided by the government: about 1,500 euros per worker.
Over 24,000 operatives work in environmental hygiene and support services in 4,000 Italian schools. Of these, about 11,500 are former socially useful workers (mainly in the south), while the remainder, spread across the country, are part of the so-called ‘historical contracts’.
The majority of redundancies are concentrated in regions such as Campania (3,500, mainly in Naples and Caserta areas), Puglia (1,300), Calabria (800), Sicilia (over 650) and Lazio (600). In the north the cuts will cause the loss of many jobs in Lombardia (500) and Piemonte (500).