British lecturers appeal to EU over pay discrimination at Italian universities

John Phillips
Italy has been condemned by the European Court of Justice for paying British, French, Belgian lecturers less than their Italian counterparts - Bloomberg

MEPs will today examine discrimination in Italian universities against lecturers from Britain and other EU countries, in a case that highlights continued discrimination in the EU's single market.

Italy has been condemned six times by the European Court of Justice for paying British, French, Belgian and other lecturers as little as half what Italian counterparts receive in universities. 

Successive Rome governments have been accused of failing to end the discrimination despite pleas from British ministers including Boris Johnson.

Highly qualified British academics teaching English in Italy had salaries halved after an Italian law reduced them to the status of language laboratory technicians. 

Lecturers fought the legislation in Italian courts and won compensation but the universities refuse to pay up.

On Tuesday, the Chairman of the ALLSI (Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy), Scotsman David Petrie, will address the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament about the case. 

The stand-off climaxed last July when the Italian Supreme Court refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the European court of Justic despite a Treaty obligation. 

Italy's highest court in four separate cases concerning foreign lecturers working at the universities of Catania, Florence, Naples Parthanope and Venice refused to refer the cases to the ECJ.

Prof Petrie, who teaches at Verona University, says that Brussels' response to the saga of the lecturers' hardship showed that despite its rhetoric on citizens' rights post-Brexit, the EU was failing to ensure the protection of workers in the EU. 

The  European Council  on 29 April underlines '…[that ] guarantees must be effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory … Citizens should be able to exercise their rights through smooth and simple administrative procedures,’” he said. 

"We hope the Petitions Committee will bring pressure to bear on the Council and the Commission so that Italy ceases to discriminate against citizens of all other member states."

The European Commission has stopped short of starting infringement proceedings against Italy in the past, allegedly under pressure from Italian MEPs.