Italy. Employers’ individualism
Tipologia : Paragrafi/Articoli
Data pubblicazione : 07/05/1938

Italy. Employers’ individualism

«The Economist», 7 maggio 1938, p. 296

 

 

 

Turin, April 9. – Some view of the forces behind the corporate system is provided by the Report of the Senate’s Finance Committee on the Budget of the Corporations Department for 1938-39. The following table summarises the figures relating to employers’ membership of syndicates on December 31, 1937:

 

 

 

“Firms” represented by employers’ syndacate

“Firms” in actual membership

Contributions

(Value in lire)

Industry:

(Numbers in thousand)

Compulsory

Voluntary

Industrialists

155.9

85.1

99,634.3

11,480.1

Artisans

798.4

349.2

House proprietors

4,373.2

101.2

Agriculture

4,168.9

991.9

78,667.9

4,676.4

Commerce

898.8

615.8

48,126.7

14,204.4

Credit and insurance

19.6

7.6

7,157.5

548.3

 

10,414.8

2,150.8

233,586.4

30,909.2

 

 

Membership of the syndacate is free. But the various syndacates represent all the employers (or employees) working in their respective fields, and collective bargains, entered into by them, are binding upon all. Therefore, all firms (or, on the employees’ side, all workers) pay compulsory fees, but only members pay voluntary contributions. The ratio between the number of employers and employees in membership and the number of employers or employees automatically represented by the syndacate is an index of the extent to which the corporate system is permeating the various economic groups.

 

 

House proprietors seem to be the social group in which the associative tendency is felt least: only 101,227 owners have sought syndicate membership, compared with a total number of 4,373,157 proprietors of houses in cities and villages. There are, of course, no employees in this group, of which to take account; the great majority of proprietors live in their own houses and have no tenants.

 

 

WORKERS’ ORGANISATION: The associative tendency is, on the other hand, at its highest in the trade, industrial and artisan groups. There, employers’ syndicates are daily in discussion with employees’ syndicates about wages and conditions of labour. In all sections, however, voluntary contributions figure in a minor role, compared with compulsory fees.

 

 

On the employees’ side the picture is somewhat different:

 

 

 

Number of men represented by employers’ syndacate

Men in actual membership

Contributions

(Numbers in thousand)

Compulsory

Voluntary

(Value in lire)

Industry

3,667.9

2,633.4

48,609.0

20,026.1

Agriculture

3,087.0

2,595.0

33,195.5

23,251.9

Commerce

527.3

473.3

13,042.3

4,019.3

Credit and insurance

62.0

53.5

2,723.2

359.2

 

7,344.2

5,755.2

97,570.0

47,656.5

Arts and professions

184.6

123.7

9,054.5

7,582.0

Co-operative bodies

11.9

10.1

11,560.0

 

 

Arts and professions make up a special group, where there is no distinction here between employers and employees; and co-operative bodies have a membership mostly overlapping with employees’ syndicate. The striking feature in the employees’ syndicate is the much more complete identification between the number of men represented and the number of men in actual membership. In the commercial group almost all employees are also members; and in the industrial section only a strong minority still remains out of the organisation. In the employers’ syndicate the voluntary contributions are less than 14 per cent. of the compulsory contributions, but in the employees’ syndicates they are almost 50 per cent. over the whole field, and as much as 70 per cent. in agriculture.

 

 

The difference may be partly due to the greater age of employees’ organisations. The workers were organised as far back as the ‘seventies and ‘eighties of last century; and the need of organisation was always more keenly felt by employees than by the more individualist employers. Membership of the syndicates, moreover, is, or is held to be, a legal pre- requisite, or at least a preferential condition, for employment. In so far as State intervention in economic matters and the need for keeping in touch with Government Departments is steadily increasing, however, membership is bound to increase on the employers’ side.

 

 

RISING IMPORT SURPLUS: In the first two months of 1938, the import surplus in foreign trade (not including colonial trade) increased compared with 1937. Imports were valued at 2,088.0 million lire, compared with 1,795.2 millions; and exports at 1,257.3 million lire against 1,105.2 millions. The surplus has thus risen, for January and February, from 689.9 million lire in 1937 to 830.7 millions. In trade with the Italian colonies, on the other hand, there was an export surplus of 400.6 million lire compared with 307.7 millions in the first two months of 1937. Exports to the colonies, however, are mainly paid for by the Government and are needed for civil servants and the army or for the economic development of the colonies.

 

 

Industrial employment is running at a high level. The general monthly index of industrial production (1928=100) was 105.2 in January, 1938, against 99.4 in January, 1937. Group indices were as follows: for textiles 84.7, against 78.8 in the corresponding month of 1937; for iron and steel and engineering 130.2, against 122; for paper 139.8, against 119.7; for gas and electricity 150.7, against 129.4; for mining 117.7, against 105.7; and for chemicals 127.6, against 94.8. The only exception to the general rise was in the building industry, where, owing to the abolition of the 25-year tax exemption and competition for iron and steel and other materials, the index fell from 95.1 in January, 1937, to 81.4 in January, 1938.

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