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Fornero to Present Italy Labor Revamp Even Without Unions

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Labor Minister Elsa Fornero said she will present a plan to overhaul Italy’s labor laws even if talks with unions and employers fail to produce an agreement.

“We can’t keep going ahead and having endless discussions,” she said last night on the television program “Che Tempo Che Fa.” Fornero said that the two-month-old talks had “matured” and that an agreement could be reached.

Prime Minister Mario Monti will lead the final round of negotiations starting tomorrow as the government seeks an agreement by the end of the week on expanding unemployment benefits, limiting the use of part-time contracts and easing firing rules. Monti said yesterday that he was “confident” that the talks would produce an agreement.

Fornero may meet this evening with unions and employers to discuss the plan before the talks with Monti, said a spokesman for Italy’s biggest union, CGIL, asking not to be named because the meeting had yet to be confirmed.

Two of the main unions, the CGIL and the UIL, oppose efforts to ease Article 18 of the labor code, which forces employers to compensate and rehire any worker that a labor court rules was fired without just cause.

Raffaele Bonanni, head of the CISL union, said in an interview with newspaper Corriere della Sera today that unions putting the entire labor market reform at risk by opposing any change to Article 18 would be “irresponsible.”

President Giorgio Napolitano, a former member of Italy’s now-defunct Communist Party, called on unions and employers to reach a deal for the sake of “future generations.”

“Lack of an agreement would be very bad,” Napolitano told reporters in Rome today in comments broadcast on Sky TG24. “An agreement is required in light of the difficulties the country is going through and of the problems facing the job market and future generations.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Davis in Rome at abdavis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tim Quinson at tquinson@bloomberg.net

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