The trade union: what it is and what function covers

Let’s start by defining the trade unions: they are associations whose main objective is to represent workers and protect their interests.

What trade unions do

One of the main tasks of trade unions is to verify that companies scrupulously respect the provisions of the Italian regulatory system for the performance of their activities (eg health and safety at work) and the rights of workers. They collect workers’ requests and protect their collective interests, a crucial activity especially when companies find themselves making decisions that impact the lives of their employees. They provide assistance in labour disputes and support workers in dismissal cases and in case they are subjected to disciplinary measures.

There are also activities that we could define as ordinary administration such as the control of documents and payslips and the assistance and protection of workers’ rights regarding social security and insurance institutions.

Most of the trade unions are also involved in offering advice and assistance for various bureaucratic and tax practices (eg compilation tax return).

The trade unions also offer numerous services to unemployed workers: training courses and professional qualification, to retirees: practices relating to retirement and also to the weakest sections of society such as immigrants: Italian language courses, advice for requesting a residence permit.

How trade unions work

To take advantage of the services offered by the trade unions, it is necessary to register and pay the union fee which varies according to the chosen union.

“The trade union organization is free. Trade unions cannot be subjected to any other obligation other than their registration at local or central offices, in accordance with the law. It is a condition for registration that the statutes of the trade unions sanction an internal organization on a democratic basis. Registered trade unions have legal personality. They can be jointly represented in proportion of their members, stipulate collective labour agreements with mandatory effect for all those belonging to the categories to which the contract refers. “

Article 39, Italian Constitution