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President Meloni’s letter to the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies Public and Private Sector Employment Committee to commemorate workplace accident victims

4 July 2024

Dear Mr Chair, dear Walter, 

I am grateful to you and to the Employment Committee, which I am honoured to have been part of in the past, for organising this ceremony to commemorate victims of workplace accidents. I am very sorry that I was no longer able to join you in person, but I nevertheless wanted to send my greetings to you and the parliamentary colleagues and Ministers present.

I would like to extend a special greeting to the relatives of the victims of workplace accidents in attendance today, and my thanks to those of them who have decided to offer their own first-hand experiences. My heartfelt thanks for what you will share at today’s ceremony, because what you are doing is neither routine nor pointless. It is extremely valuable and something we deeply respect, as it reminds each of us that behind the cold figures and statistics are faces, stories, families and people made of flesh and blood, and it is our duty to consider those people when making choices and decisions.

The issue of workplace health and safety is particularly close to this Government’s heart, and is one of the priorities we have been working on ever since we came to office, also by discussing with employers’ associations and trade union organisations, because this challenge does not only involve the institutions, but everyone, at all levels. Everyone, without any exceptions, must feel they have a part to play. 
The Government intends to do its part. We are convinced that the right strategy is to provide for much tougher controls, harsher punishments for those who do not respect workplace health and safety regulations, and an increasingly widespread culture of prevention.
In these months, we have arranged for 1,600 more workplace inspectors to be hired, with the goal of doubling the number of inspections during 2024. We have introduced a so-called ‘credits-based licence’ for companies and self-employed workers and a compliance list for companies, showing correct and rule-abiding conduct.

We have also taken action with regard to both administrative and criminal sanctions. We have made the unlawful supply of labour a criminal offence again, which had been decriminalised in the past but has been found to be the offence that has grown the most over time.
We have also taken it upon ourselves to provide protection in the education sector, extending insurance cover by INAIL [National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work] to all school staff and students and establishing a fund to compensate victims’ families. We have provided for more stringent measures and stricter controls to ensure young people are supported by school tutors and company contact persons throughout their time on company premises, for the very purpose of guaranteeing their safety and ensuring they are not involved in any risky work.

I believe prevention efforts are crucial. INAIL’s decision to double the resources available to employers, compared with 2023, to increase safety levels is very important indeed, with these amounting to over EUR 1.5 billion. In this regard, I am also convinced that talking about workplace health and safety in schools can be another way of raising awareness among the younger generations about the culture of prevention, thereby helping shape citizens who are aware of their rights, their duties and worker protection. I know there is a parliamentary bill moving in this direction which has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies and is currently under consideration by the Senate, and it is my hope that more and more initiatives of this kind can be launched and implemented.

As Pope Francis has rightfully said on several occasions, safety at work “is like the air we breathe: we realise its importance only when it is tragically lacking, and it is always too late”.

Extremely clear words that mark out our path: to do all that is necessary and possible to ensure it is no longer too late. Safety at work is not a cost, but a right that belongs to all workers. And the Government will continue to do its utmost to guarantee it.

[Courtesy translation]