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‘Come to Italy, where we exploit our workers’

“An Italian engineer earns an average annual salary of €38,500, while in other European countries engineers have an average salary of €48,500. In Italy the quality-to-cost ratio of highly skilled profiles is extremely competitive compared to other European states.”

This news, considered excellent for foreign companies wanting to invest in Italy — not so much for Italian workers — was announced on a document presented on Sept. 21 by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda in Milan, as part of the national plan “Industry 4.0.” The brochure was produced by ICE, the agency for the promotion of Italian businesses abroad, to encourage foreigners to make investments in our country.

In the document, among the reasons why Italy should be “the right place to invest right now,” in addition to the Jobs Act, the strategic location and the incentives for investors, on page 32, under the heading “Human Capital,” the “low cost” of Italian workers is highlighted, the lowest paid among all European countries.

And on the next page, things do not improve: The explanation, supported by a lot of graphics, is that in 2014, the average salary of an Italian worker was the lowest, and the one with the smallest increase, compared with the U.K., Germany, France, Belgium and Ireland. Furthermore, the growth of labor costs in our country for the period 2012-2014 is lower than the Eurozone average.

The government initiative would have passed unnoticed if Italian Left had not submitted a question to the Senate. It stressed that it is “shameful and embarrassing” that the government presents the low wages and exploitation of Italian workers as an incentive for investors rather than a serious problem to be solved.

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