Italy's supreme court orders foreign lecturers to repay 2 mln euros
ROME – Italy’s Supreme Court has ordered nine foreign lecturers to repay over 2 million euros in back wages, that were previously awarded to them by lower courts, to the University of Basilicata, in the latest legal harassment of foreign academics by the Italian higher education system, judicial officials said.
The May 19 ruling against the nine lecturers by the Court of Cassation ordering repayment of 2,169,949 euros was “in blatant contrast with European Court of Justice rulings” ordering Italy to compensate lettori for back wages and pensions owing due to discrimination against the foreign lecturers, David Petrie, Chair of the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy, ALLSI, said.
Among those affected by the bizarre Supreme Court ruling is an Australian citizen, Rosalind Innes, who worked as an English language lecturer at the University of Basilicata from 1992 until 2021 and has been in litigation since 1994. National and European Court of Justice rulings pegged her salary to those of University Researcher.
Ms Innes and her non-Italian colleagues received and continue to receive net salaries of circa 1000 euros per month. The University of Basilicata refused to implement the ECJ rulings and pay them on a parity with Italian teaching staff. Consequently they were obliged to sue for compensation.
Ms Innes was awarded and received 213,543 euros for unpaid arrears in wages in 2017 following an Italian Appeals Court ruling ordering compensating for the period she worked from 1995 up until 2014.
British citizens and co-litigants identified only as Mr K and Ms D along, with another 6 non-Italian lecturers (two French, a German, a Canadian, an American and a Nigerian) have been similarly harassed by the University of Basilicata, the Italian State and now the Italian Courts that are circumventing ECJ judgements of 2001 and 2006.
Prof. Petrie said “it is for Italy’s failure to fulfil legal obligations in these cases that the European Commission issued its reasoned opinion of Jan. 26, 2023, - the content of which has been ignored by Cassation on May 19.”
The British/Australian member of the UK parliament, Deidre Brock MP, said Friday after a meeting with Prof. Petrie that she would seek further clarification following on in pursuit of the lecturers’ plight from Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty, who in a letter to her March 16 said Britain is continuing to raise the matter with Italian authorities.
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