Italian firm must pay €2.95m to underpaid staff

An Italian subcontractor working the expansion of Copenhagen's Metro system must pay 22 million kroner (€2.95 million) to compensate 200 underpaid workers, a Danish court ruled Tuesday.

Italian firm must pay €2.95m to underpaid staff
The Metro case is being called the largest ever arbitration ruling in Danish history. Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix

In what is being called the largest industrial arbitration case in Danish history, the Italian firm Cipa has been found guilty of underpaying its workers.

Cipa is one of three Italian firms serving as subcontractors on the massive expansion of Copenhagen’s Metro system.

An arbitration court ruled on Tuesday that Cipa has underpaid around 200 employees from Portugal, Italy and Romania. The company must now compensate the employees with 22 million kroner (€2.95m).

The Danish labour union 3F represented the employees and although the ruling was for less than the 30.5 million kroner in compensation the union hoped for, it was still the largest arbitration ruling in the Danish construction industry’s history and 3F called it a major win against social dumping.

The consortium Copenhagen Metro Team (CMT), which consists of three Italian firms and is the general contractor on the expansion project, said it would take the ruling “seriously” 

“We will read the ruling thoroughly and speak with Metroselskabet [the publicly-operated company responsible for the Metro project]. It is too early now to say what consequence this will have,” CMT spokesman Sigurd Nissen-Petersen told Denmark's TV2 News.

Nissen-Petersen added that CMT will make sure the ruling “doesn’t have any consequences for the project”.  

The working conditions at Metro expansion construction sites have also been heavily criticized and another Italian subcontractor, Selia, has been reported to the Danish Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet) numerous times.

A Polish worker who was nearly killed in an October 2013 underground explosion told trade magazine Fagbladet 3F that he has worked in numerous countries but has “never experienced such poor working conditions and security” as on the Metro expansion.

A spokesperson for 3F said that many Metro workers were afraid to step forward in the arbitration case due to the fear of retribution in their home countries.  

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Venice bans morning coffee breaks and bermuda shorts for city employees

The mayor of the city of Venice has introduced a series of behavioural measures and a new dress code for the city's public sector staff.

Venice bans morning coffee breaks and bermuda shorts for city employees
File photo: twindesigner/Depositphotos

Grabbing a cup of coffee on the way to a work station is a rite of passage many office workers hold as sacred. Not to mention in Italy, where 'la pausa del caffè' (a coffee break) is an institutionalised morning ritual.

A new set of norms for council workers approved by Venice's mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, aims, however, to run a tighter ship in the city home to more than 170 canals.

Coffee breaks are not mentioned per se, although the new adopted norms state council workers, once clocked in, should “refrain from carrying out activities that delay the effective starting of service,” reports Italian daily Repubblica. In a nutshell, arrivederci caffè for the city's 2,600 or so council workers. 

Best to bring your own coffee if you work for Venice's municipality. File photo: ArturVerkhovetskiy/Depositphotos

The new measures also ban the wearing of bermuda shorts, even when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius in summer.  

Internet and mobile phones should also only be “used in compliance with the constraints of the administration, and only for institutional purposes.”

Several councils across Italy have introduced similar measures in recent years with a view to reducing distractions for employees during working hours. 


In Jesi, a town in the Le Marche region, council workers are now forbidden to leave the council building without prior authorization during their shifts. In Trieste, council staff have been told not to drink alcohol on their lunch breaks.

Venice had already introduced specific dress code guidelines for municipal police in February 2018. Female officers are allowed to wear a single ring and a small necklace, but earrings are only allowed if they are “spheric or semi-spheric”. Male officers, however, cannot wear earrings or display body piercings. 

Women serving in the force should also not wear coloured bras that are visible under their uniform. The same guidelines also stipulate that women cannot go to work with “bizarre or unusual” hairstyles, according to a report in local daily La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre. 

Some of the guidelines for municipal police have been criticised by stakeholders. Daniele Giordano, secretary general of the Italian Confederation of Labour and Industry in Venice, reportedly described the dress code for police officers in Venice as “offensive and absurd” at the time.

READ MORE: Twelve authentic spots to eat and drink on a budget in Venice