Italian trade unions are calling on the government to take swift measures to support the second pillar pension system (previdenza complementare).

During a meeting this week at the Ministry of Labour the Italian Labour Union (UIL) emphasised the urgency to introduce tax incentives for investments of pension schemes.

The union is also in favour of “turning the lights back on for supplementary pensions” through an information campaign to increase the number of members joining pension funds.

During the meeting, the Italian Workers’ Trade Unions Confederation (CISL) asked for the introduction of a semester of silence/consent (silenzio assenso) for employees to decide whether to allocate the severance pay (trattamento di fine rapporto, TFR) to a pension fund, or leave it with a plan sponsor/company.

The severance pay is automatically allocated to a pension scheme without an explicit choice from employees.

“We have asked [the government] to establish an office to make sure that the choice of workers to withhold severance pay in a company is reasoned and above all free. We have [also] asked [for the introduction of] supplementary pensions for personnel in the defence, security and public rescue sectors,” CGIL’s confederal secretary Lara Ghiglione said.

CGIL considers important to bring the taxation on returns to “previous and more advantageous parameters” for those who join pension schemes, Ghiglione said, adding that the governed should set the right framework for pension schemes to invest in the real economy.

Fund of funds in private equity, private debt and infrastructure set up under the Real Economy Project (Progetto Economia Reale) launched by Assofondipensione – the association for the complementary pensions sector – in partnership with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), the partly state-owned investment bank, and asset manager Fondo Italiano d’Investimento, are only the first steps to investing in the real economy, Ghiglione said, adding that “more needs to be done”.

A controversial decision

The unions and Assofondipensione, the Italian association of industry-wide pension funds known as ‘fondi negoziali’, have raised concerns regarding the government sellecting Assoprevidenza to promote second pillar supplementary pensions.

Assoprevidenza will receive public funds worth €29.5m to promote second pillar supplementary pensions, with €1.5m that could be paid by 30 September, according to reports.

Back in 2011 the parliament selected an independent committee called “Previdenza Italia” for the same role. In 2019, under the premiership of Giuseppe Conte, the Itailan government set out a plan to deploy funds to finance the committee: €1.5m in 2020, and €2m per year from 2021 to 2034. But the labour ministry never paid the sum, newspaper La Stampa reported.

Assofondipensione said in a note that the government’s decision does not take into account the complexity of the second pillar pension system.

CGIL, UIL, and CISL believe it is unacceptable to finance a private association to promote supplementary pensions.

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