The Italian government will pass labor market reforms even if trade unions do not give their consent to the measures, Labour Minister Elsa Fornero told union leaders on Thursday, according to an official close to the discussions.
Fornero is holding talks with unions and employers to change a rigid system blamed for chronically low employment rates, especially among young people and women, which in turn stifle economic growth.
Prime Minister Mario Monti's government has moved quickly to pass new budget measures and present economic reforms since being appointed last year as Italy risked being sucked into an uncontrollable financial crisis.
"There is a dialogue but the government will not miss the opportunity; if we do it together, then we'll be happy but if not, the government will still seek to do it," Fornero told the meeting, according to the official.
Attention has largely focused on Article 18, a section in the labor law which obliges companies with more than 15 workers to re-hire workers judged by the courts to have been unjustly laid off.
The provision has become symbolic of the battle for the future of a system unions say offers much-needed protection for workers but critics say shields only some privileged categories while condemning growing numbers to precarious, short-term jobs with few benefits.
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