Les entrepreneurs italiens, leurs organizations et le Conseil supérieur du travail (1902-1923)

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The paper examines the relationships and the concerns among business association, workers' organizations and ministerial bureaucracy at the beginning of XXth century: in particular it analyzes the activity of the Consiglio Superiore del Lavoro (the Superior Council for Labour, hereafter CSL) with regard of the issues of working conditions and social legislation. The CSL, established in 1902 by Zanardelli-Giolitti's government and suppressed in 1923 by Mussolini, should have been the first example of official participation of “social movements” to a job policy by institutions. The Italian administrative system followed the Napoleonic experience and the CSL was realized on the same French model. The life of CSL was in an intensive phase of national history: the “reformism” of Giolitti's era and the complex postwar, with a deep social crisis until the end of liberal system and the birth of the first Mussolini’s government. The CSL was mainly involved in programs of job organization and in social legislation (legislative discipline of work, collective contracts, arbitration, legal recognition of unions) with the involvement of economic and social leaders (e.g. Filippo Turati, leader of Socialist Party or Giovanni Montemartini, supporter of public utilities). Many reports of CSL didn't find a real application. In several cases, on the basis of pressure from the business system, the government and in particular the Prime Minister Giolitti did not accept the proposals made by the Committee of CSL and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce. These projects were evaluated too favorable to the positions of Unions. Moreover, in the pre-war phase the action of lobbying on the government seems to be more linked to the initiative of individual industrial than to the formal action of BIAs. So far, Italian historians have studied the CSL on social and trade union issues as well as in political matters for the transformation of the liberal state. Scholars studied the political context of the CSL project, from the topic of child labour to the public utilities and, at the same time, they described the “hard path” and the gradual decline of this structure of the Savoy state. The historians discussed on the alternative perspectives of the CSL, too. According to the “liberal class” the Council was a device to enlarge the social partnership with a state action while socialist politicians planned an institution in competition with the others of the State. The essential feature was the disappearance of the separation between political and administrative organisms while the bureaucratic power had direct political goals.Furthermore, the administrative cooperation was among associations with different identities and goals and – and above all for the CSL - between the conflicting interests of capital and labor. Moreover, the relation of entrepreneurs with the administrative apparatus of the Ministry was in a phase where there was no distinction between political bodies and technical bodies, so the high bureaucracy also had functions concerning the political framework. On the basis of the reports of the CSL, the paper discusses that the representatives of business organizations in the CSL should have an “antagonistic attitude”. Before the WWI, the industrial lobby in the Council wanted to introduce rules to reduce conflict in the workplace but also had a refusal to dialogue for social legislation made by trade unions and the Socialist Party. The first objective of entrepreneurs was the restraint of the public interference on productive activities. At the same time, the representatives of the manufacturing class consolidated their relations with the administrative system sharing solutions of mediation which later liberal governments blocked. In this sense, a more detailed analysis shows the hope by employers for a regulation of the labor market that did not reduce the powers of t
Titolo tradotto del contributo[Autom. eng. transl.] Italian entrepreneurs, their organizations and the Higher Labor Council (1902-1923)
Lingua originaleFrench
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteCoopérer, négocier, s'affronter. Les organisations patronales et leurs relations avec les autres organisations collectives
EditorDaniél Fraboulet, Cedric, Vernus, Pierre Humair
Numero di pagine11
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014


  • business associations
  • institutions


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