Italy Set to End Ban on Firing Workers in Test of Economy’s Covid Restart

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Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government plans to end a ban on firing workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors, removing protections that have been in place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in a sign of Italy’s recovery.

The move, which could be confirmed as soon as Wednesday, threatens to open a rift with some left-leaning parties in Draghi’s coalition. Unions called on the government to extend the protections at least four more months, claiming the economy is still fragile.

“Let’s restart together, with social cohesion in labor and social justice for the Italy of tomorrow,” said Maurizio Landini, general secretary of the CGIL union, which represents more than 5 million workers.

Rome did move to retain safeguards for workers in some areas, notably the textile sector, according to a statement late Monday by Draghi’s office. The ban on firing in the clothing, fashion and footwear industries will remain in place until at least October.

Draghi -- the former European Central Bank chief who has been head of Italy’s government since February -- is set to start meeting unions and other social organizations from Tuesday, according to the statement.

The central goals of the Draghi’s government are to accelerate vaccinations and restart the economy. Italy, which suffered a contraction of 9% in 2020, is expected to grow at least 4.2% this year, government officials have said.

The country reached a key milestone this week by surpassing 50 million administered doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Italy, which has a population of about 60 million, aims to have 80% of residents fully inoculated by the end of September.

“Economic confidence is coming back,” Draghi told lawmakers ahead of last week’s European Union summit. “Data is pointing to a stronger-than-expected economic rebound.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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