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Marco Bacio

Doctoral student


Women and Trade Unions, a relationship in crisis? History and developments in Italy.


  • Marco Bacio
  • Bianca Beccalli

Summary, in English

Many analyses and debates developed in the last decades around trade unions’ revitalisation, pointing to different national traditions in the varieties of capitalism. Gender equality adds a new perspective to these debates, showing that women can be a crucial test for, and an instrument of, trade union revitalisation. In the current situation in Italy, what are the main challenges facing working women and involving trade unions? And which resources may be available from the Italian historical tradition? The atypical workers are today what the unskilled workers were in the 20th century, a test for the unions’ ability to represent a growing underprivileged workforce, in which women are a relevant part. Women’s protection has developed in Italy through collective bargaining since the action for equal pay in the past and, recently, for the ‘reconciliation’ of work and family obligations. Italian trade unions lack a comprehensive policy for working women, they need to improve the protection and the promotion of women in the labour market and in society, where especially young women, despite their high credentials, are faced with increasing dilemmas about their work and family life. We shall hold that to address these issues is an important challenge for Italian trade unions revitalisation: it would involve gendering the trade unions agenda and mainstreaming their gender issues; it would involve renewing organizational practices and gender relations inside the unions; it would involve combining labour market policies with community and welfare state policies. Despite the growing numbers of women workers we observe an enduring vertical and horizontal segregation that makes representation difficult. In this paper we shall discuss how the economic crisis is changing the presence of women in the labour market and if trade unions are changing themselves for coping with the old and new challenges.

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper


  • Political Science


  • Trade Unions
  • Women
  • Italy

Conference name

IREC - Industrial Relations in Europe Conference, 2014

Conference date

2014-09-10 - 2014-09-12

Conference place

Dublin, Ireland