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Newsletters > March 2011 > SO1 Italian case study: Training workshops: Lets bargain equality
This is a multimedia case study realised by the adviser for equal opportunity from our Italian partner in the Province of Venice: Donne e lavoro. Storie di ordinaria discriminazione (women and work: a story of ordinary discrimination).

Anna, a qualified nurse, needs to start her shift a little later to care for her toddler before daycare …Mario operates the CAT scan database and hardly spends any time with his family because he has a three-hour commute everyday to reach the hospital …Teresa has a small business and she does not know how to run it while she is expecting her third baby…. They all need to bargain flexible work conditions to be able to reconcile their work duties with family time…


It is in order to help Anna, Mario and Teresa to get a better quality life that the workshop “Let’s bargain equality” has been conceived, implementing and explaining the opportunities that one of the most important Italian Laws supporting rights of parenting and family care and reconciliation of family and work time (among other things) has to offer to companies and workers.


The training workshops are an initiative promoted by the Adviser for equal opportunities of Veneto Region. The mission of the Adviser is the promotion of equal opportunities of women and men in the labour market. The Adviser’s role is to deal with the identification of discriminatory situations, interventions with active labour policies, to contrast discrimination also with legal tools and dissemination of good practices developed in this field.


“The idea of training laboratories came to me after the modifications in the framework of the national law 53/2000, (article n. 9)”, says Lucia Basso, Adviser for equal opportunity of Veneto Region. 


The law 53/2000 and in particular the article n. 9, provides funding for those enterprises and, more recently, public health authorities, which submit projects introducing new working arrangements (eg. part time, telework, job-sharing ect.) or training for the re-entering of workers after a parental leave to favour a better balance between family care and work of their employers.


The Law foresees a mandatory tripartite agreement among involved partners: trade unions, enterprises, employers’ associations as a condition for submitting a project for funding.


“Several enterprises and local health authorities (where the percentage of women employees is very high) requested support to the Adviser’s office in developing conciliation projects and agreements since they were receiving many complaints by their employees, so we decided to plan a coordinated initiative for training”, added Basso.

The Adviser promoted 3 training workshops in 2007 and 2008 to raise awareness among managers of private firms and public authorities on conciliation policies and national incentives of the Law 53/2000 to implement projects for a flexible work organization.


During the workshops the issues of conciliating work and family time and the legislation in Italy have been analyzed, providing examples of significant experiences, good practices and practicing project’s development to be submitted to the Ministry of Labour.


Each workshop was structured to integrate theory (knowledge of laws and regulations) with practice, initiating discussions on specific cases and drafting or simulating projects ideas. Furthermore, at the end of each training course the participants were asked to elaborate hypothesis of positive actions following the need of their organizations. 


 “We had a good participation in our workshops”, recalls Basso: “The first one was attended by 39 participants (35 women), the second one by 37 (31 women) and the last one by 36 (29 women). Altogether the laboratories reached 112 persons (95 women)”.


After the workshops two projects submitted by the Local Health Authority ULSS 15 (Cittadella - Camposampiero, Padua) in October 2008 and by ULSS 13 (Dolo – Mirano, Venice) were financed by the Ministry and started in January 2010.

To this aim, two tripartite agreements have been negotiated and signed among social partners: the employers associations, the trade unions and the local institutions, including the regional and provincial Advisers in three different provinces (Venice, Belluno and Vicenza).


Following these workshops, Veneto has become the second Italian region to submit and receive funding by the Law, according to the Ministry of Labour data in 2009. 


The capitalization of the opportunity offered by Law 53/2000 has the potential to be replicated elsewhere, especially actions of training and awareness raising on the possible incentives for the companies that view conciliation between working and family time as a factor for the well-being of their employees and -- as a consequence -- of a better and often more productive work environment.


“Some conditions apply,” as Lucia Basso puts it: “the experience can be replicated in other contexts if there is an expressed need coming from the working context, if there is a “champion” who can stimulate the dialogue and coordinate the initiative and if there is the will of all social partners and companies.”


After all, Anna, Mario and Teresa are closer to find a way to improve the balance between their personal and professional lives.