UK wants 'early resolution' of Lettori plight, UK envoy says

Ambassador Jill Morris with Italian President Sergio Mattarella

ROME — Britain will continue to seek an early resolution to the problem of UK lecturers in Italy who constantly are forced to go to court for payment of arrears on wages, and pension and social security rights, British Ambassador to Italy Jill Morris has told Prof. David Petrie, chairman of the Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy (ALLSI).

 The new UK ambassador, the first woman to hold the post, met with Prof. Petrie on Friday at the British Embassy in Rome and confirmed that the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has brought up the parlous plight of the lettori with her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi. 

 Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, also pressed his Italian opposite number Paolo Gentiloni at a recent bilateral meeting in Florence, using some of the strongest language yet from a British official on the long-running dispute that has seen Italy repeatedly condemned by the European Court of Justice for the blatant discrimination in flagrant abuse of EU rules. 

 Prof. Petrie said after the meeting "The Ambassador was very upbeat … We will be seeking a meeting with the new British Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan.”

 Diplomatic sources said that the British Brexit vote may offer an opportunity for the festering lettori discrimination to be resolved at last given that Rome is concerned about the future of thousands of Italians working in Britain including many in the education sector. 

 This may offer Italy an opportunity to lead the way offering good will by compensating the British lecturers who were downgraded to laboratory technicians under the Gemini law and had their salaries slashed by up to 50 percent overnight.

 Christopher Prentice, the former British Ambassador who retired last July, after a record stint in Rome, to live in northern Italy, made strenuous efforts on behalf if the lettori. A compensation package is expected to be earmarked in Italy’s forthcoming Stability Law budget.

 Prof. Petrie has been campaigning for equal rights for his union's members for the past 25 years.