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Collective Agreements – Extensions to Metayers -Compromise Reached

Tipologia: Paragrafo/Articolo – Data pubblicazione: 19/11/1932

Collective Agreements – Extensions to Metayers -Compromise Reached

«The Economist», 19 novembre 1932, p. 932



Turin, November 13



An important event in the history of the Corporative State was the recent report by Senator Raineri on the extension to metayers of the collective contract regulations. Hitherto the principles laid down in the law of April 3, 1926, and in the Labour Charter have been completely accepted. It is a well-known feature of the corporative system that, as strikes and lockouts are prohibited, only one association or federation, local, provincial and national, can be recognised; and that the employers’ and employees’ associations have power to conclude an agreement on wages, hours and other conditions of labour, which is compulsory for all employers and employees whether they are members or not. This binding power is characteristic of the corporative system, in which trade unions and industrial associations are public bodies in the same sense as the State, or a Province or a Municipality, whose lawful orders must be observed by all citizens concerned.



At first it seemed easy to extend this system to the vast agricultural field governed by the old system of partnership known as mezzadria, or colonia parziaria, under which the whole product of the land is divided between landowners and metayers. A national federation of metayers was hurriedly constituted under the aegis of Signor Razza, M. P., a former Socialist leader and the present general secretary of the General Confederation of Agricultural Workers. On the part of the Agriculturists’ (Employers) Federation this creation was met by the formation of the special sections of employing proprietors. In a short time 86 collective agreements in 60 provinces were reached and duly made public in the official, provincial and national gazettes.


As, however, the metayer system was not explicitly contemplated in the 1926 law, a question soon arose as to whether the agreements were compulsory according to the law, and, therefore, legally binding not only on members of the associations, but also on all interested employers and employees. Eventually a certain number of Justices of the Peace decided that they were universally bmding. At this point landowners took alarm. What was becoming of the celebrated metayer system, which is grounded not on the wage-system, but on full partnership of gains and losses, so that the metayer, being a partner, does not grumble about hours of labour, nor insists on fixed minimum wages?



Three years ago, the Government, desiring to settle the matter, presented to the Lower House a Bill extending the 1926 law to metayer agreements. The House, in giving assent, added that the collective labour agreements ought to take account of the special limitations and qualifications required by the peculiar nature of the system, but no further progress was recorded after the Bill reached the Senate. Now, after two years of diligent inquiries, Senator Raineri, an ex-Minister of Agriculture, has presented, on behalf of the Senate Committee, his report. The Senate Committee votes for conciliation. The 1926 law will be extended to all partnership agreements in agriculture. Collective labour agreements will be compulsory, as all the other corresponding contracts are in Italy; but they will not contain any regulation relative to hours of labour, wages, rest time, initial probation period or other conditions characteristic of the wages labour contracts. They must respect customs, traditions and economic requirements of the different Italian agricultural regions. In short, collective agreements are not to change the fundamental character of the partnership system, the payment by means of a share in the total product and freedom from limitations in methods of work. If the Senate adopts the Raineri report, the important principle will be affirmed that legislation by agreements between syndicates must be limited to those fields where the wage-system exists.


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