UK tells Renzi: end "illegal" discrimination

British Minister for Europe David Lidington (centre) with ALLSI Chairman David Petrie (left)

ROME– Britain has told Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Government that Italy must “find a solution” to “unacceptable and illegal” discrimination of UK lecturers, Europe Minister David Lidington says.

 “The discrimination faced by UK and foreign national lecturers in Italy is unacceptable and illegal,” Mr Lidington said.

 The Minister disclosed the latest demarche to Italy on the lettori’s plight in a reply to a Parliamentary question from Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire,  some of whose constituents are lettori, who asked Mr Lidington last week “what discussions he has had with his Italian counterpart on the status of foreign lecturers in Italian universities.”

 Mr Lidington disclosed that “most recently, the Minister for Universities and Science, my right hon. Friend Mr (David) Willetts has written to the new Italian Minister for Education, Research and Universities, Stefania Giannini, and underlined the importance of finding a solution.”

 Britain has kept up persistent pressure on Italy to compensate hundreds of lettori from Britain and other countries working in Italian universities who had their wages cut by as much as a half after the so-called Gelmini law passed by the previous Berlusconi Government downgraded them to mere language laboratory technicians rather than their established status as associate professors. The Letta Government pledged to make such compensation and it is expected that the Renzi cabinet will honour that commitment.

 Mr Lidington recalled that “I met the then Italian Europe Minister, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, on 19 November 2013, and stressed the importance of progress.”

 “I also met the Chairman of the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy (ALLSI), David Petrie, on 28 November 2013, and assured him of the Government's commitment to keep up the pressure on the Italian authorities. I raised the issue with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Marta Dassu, when I met her on 15 January,” the minister said.