UK 'committed' to end Lettori discrimination, Duncan says

Labour MP for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds with Judith Evans of Bergamo University

 LONDON -- As UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces pressure to protect the rights of EU nationals working in Britain, the UK Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan says Britain will intensify calls for Italy to end its “long running discrimination” against UK lecturers in Italian universities until they receive promised compensation from Rome.

 In a letter written Feb.21 addressed to Labour MP for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Sir Alan, in his first public comment on the lettori drama, said that Italy’s failure to end its discrimination against non-Italian lecturers was frustrated by budgetary concerns in Rome.

 Mr Thomas-Symonds MP met with his constituent Judith Evans in the House of Commons on 31 January to hear first hand evidence on her wages being cut at the University of Bergamo, using the so-called Gelmini law that came into force in 2011 and has been widely criticised by leading jurists.

 Sir Alan’s letter says: “I can assure you that this long-standing dispute continues to be a matter of concern for the UK government. The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor have repeatedly raised the plight of the Lettori with the Italian counterparts.”

 “Our renewed lobbying encouraged the previous Italian government to show an unprecedented level of interest in resolving this long running issue. It was, however, unfortunate that the necessary funds to end the long running discrimination and provide compensation were not included in the 2017 budget law,” Duncan said.

“The UK is committed to protecting the rights of British nationals overseas. We will therefore continue to support the Lettori’s efforts to find an equitable solution that ends the discrimination.”

Mrs May is under pressure from a cross-party Committee on exiting the EU “to make a unilateral decision to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK”.

Welcoming Sir Alan’s letter, Prof. David Petrie, chairman of ALLSI said, “Is Italy so broke it cannot afford to pay the wages of 200 odd non-Italian teachers and guarantee their proper pension rights? The arrears in wages and pension contributions due to Judith Evans and others are in application of judgments of the European Court of Justice. Does Italy intend to remain a member of the EU while flouting decisions of its supreme court? Not only is Italy failing to guarantee our rights, the Gelmini law affecting Ms Evans subtracts rights and extinguishes court cases.

The Italian Dipartimento Politiche Europee  Presidenza Del Consiglio dei Ministri has announced that “ On  March 25 2017, Europe will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, one of the most remarkable historical moments of the European integration process.”