The “manufacturers’ pact” represents a key move on the panorama of industrial relations in Italy: not only a political signal from entrepreneurs and trade unions, but also a specific commitment to formulating corporate agreements aimed at boosting competitiveness, improving productivity and fostering growth, quality and innovation. There is also another aspect to the pact, which involves applying pressure and lobbying the government, parliament and political parties for economic policies that will favour the forces responsible for the creation of wealth: the companies.
The idea of a “manufacturers’ pact” is not a new one: it appeared in political debate in Italy in the crisis years of the ‘70s, above all in terms of analysis and proposals – albeit diverse – presented by the PCI led by Enrico Berlinguer and the PRI led by Ugo La Malfa. It represented a stand against the trend, which was widespread even back then, for cronyism in policy-making (something which characterised above all areas close to the DC). Now the pact is back, but in a new guise, championed by Confindustria and CGIL, CISL and UIL (which, despite their limits and contradictions, represent the world of manufacturing). And there was physical evidence of this too, during the May Day celebrations in Bologna and Treviso: on stage at the events alongside the trade union leaders were representatives of Confindustria, Confartigianato, CNA and Lega delle cooperative, company men in other words.
So what are the pact’s signatories asking for? Measures to kick-start the economy, focusing on industry and manufacturing first and foremost and making good use of fiscal leverage to foster innovation, research, an international approach, exports and competitiveness. Less fiscal pressure and simpler taxation for those in business and manufacturing: not general, generic tax cuts, but strategic industrial policies based on intelligent, selective taxation. The measures meet with the approval of the OECD: “The priority for Italy”, asserts OECD Secretary General Angel Gurruia, “is to reduce taxes on companies and labour”. With the manufacturers in mind.