Informations and abstract
The Author analyses recent developments in working time regulation through industry-wide as well as company-wide agreements in the private sector. Since the '80s we are coping with a crisis in the standard pattern of working time (both the maximum length and the distribution of working time for every workers are involved). Individual working time has become more and more individualized, and the global reduction (in terms of hours per year: 80-110 hours) has been directly managed at company or plant level, with flexible sets of working time for different groups of workers. The global reduction, however, has not induced a general reduction of the hours of work per day. Recent developments of collective bargaining show that industry-wide collective agreements define only the (reduced) global working time, in terms of hours per year, while the distribution as well as the actual organisation of working time is delegated to company or plant collective agreements. The Author stresses an example of innovative organization of working time. He analyses the important agreement bargained between FIAT and trade union for a new plant in the South of Italy. According to the Author, Italian patterns of working time are still characterised by the traditional high flexibility "up", i.e. flexibility intended to increase working time through supplementary work. As a general rule, the standards provided for by collective agreements can be deemed to be functional to the actual need of flexibility of Italian enterprises. However, they also fit the individuals' needs insofar as overtime is partially balanced by supplementary rest periods. The Author briefly underlines the limits of such a pattern, in terms of necessity to reduce working time in order to cope with increasing unemployment. As far as individuals' needs are concerned, the Author stresses on an interesting instrument introduced some years ago in Germany, the so-called "Bank of working time", in which working time and free time could be accounted for and "exchanged" between the employer and every employee, in order to match both their respective needs of flexibility.