Subcontracting Chain and Working Conditions in Italy: Evidence from the Food and Meat Industry

Stefania Battistelli,

Piera Campanella


Outsourcing is a phenomenon that combines business strategies, structural characteristics of companies and working relationships. In Italy outsourcing is widespread, facilitated by a legislation that has removed limits and made the outsourced production and the management of the workforce easier. As a result, employment, working conditions and industrial relations in the value chain have been affected by this phenomenon in terms of high fragmentation and work protection. In this scenario the industries which have been more negatively impacted by the phenomenon are the ones under high pressure from large retailers and the demand for low cost goods, such as the logistics and the meat sector. The article aims at presenting the analysis of outsourcing phenomenon in Italy, by examining its causes, its mechanism and its consequences on workers and their trade unions. In this context, an inadequacy of the present regulatory approaches in addressing the phenomenon of outsourcing has been observed. Its content has been enriched with the analysis of a case study, called “Modena system,” which unveils the weaknesses of outsourcing in a specific sector, the meat industry, and the concrete responses taken by the public actors and trade unions to deal with them.

ASJC: 3308, JEL: K31

This article has been prepared during the implementation of the project “Fairness, freedom and Industrial Relations across Europe: UP AND DOWN THE MEAT VALUE CHAIN (MEAT.UP.FFIRE)”— VP/2017/004/0035. The article was the product of a joint endeavour between the two authors, but the paragraphs can be attributed as follows: §§ 2, 3.1. to Stefania Battistelli and §§ 1, 3.2. and 4 to Piera Campanella.

Słowa kluczowe: outsourcing, subcontracting, working conditions, labour intermediation, food and meat industry / podwykonawstwo, warunki pracy, pośrednictwo pracy, przemysł spożywczy i mięsny

Agazzi D. (2019) Esternalizzazioni Ubi, Salvoldi (Cisl): “Soddisfaatti per l’accordo raggiunto”, (access: 20 January 2020).

Barberis E., Centamore G., Freddi D., Giammetti R., Polidori P., Teobaldelli D., Vigano E. (2019) WP2: Structural Characteristics of the European Pork Meat Value Chain: A Quantitative Analysis, (access: 20 January 2020).

Battistelli S. (2019) Tecniche regolative della sicurezza sul lavoro negli appalti e nelle esternalizzazioni. Il caso delle carni, PhD thesis, Urbino.

Battistelli S., Campanella P., Centamore G., Dazzi D., Freddi D. (2019) WP3: National Report, Italy. Industrial Relations in the Pork Value Chain, (access: 20 January 2020).

Bologna S., Curi S. (2016) Relazioni industriali e servizi di logistica: uno studio preliminare, “Giornale di diritto del lavoro e di relazioni industriali,” Vol. 161.

Chiale S. (2019) Stop caporalato e appalti truffa. Patto-legalita tra le cooperative. Accordo su logistica e ispezioni, “Corriere della Sera Milano,” 15 October.

CNEL (2014) Working poor: un’analisi sui lavoratori a bassa remunerazione dopo la crisi, Roma.

Commissione speciale di ricerca e di studio sulle cooperative cosiddette spurie o fittizie (2019) Relazione conclusiva, (access: 20 January 2020).

Deloitte (2018) Traditional Outsourcing is Dead. Long Live Disruptive Outsourcing. Global Outsourcing Survey.

Dorigatti L., Mori A. (2016) L’impatto delle scelte datoriali sulle condizioni di lavoro e sulle diseguaglianze: disintegrazione verticale, esternalizzazioni e appalti, “Sociologia del lavoro,” Vol. 144.

Drahokoupil J. (2015) Introduction [in:] J. Drahokoupil (ed.), The Outsourcing Challenge. Organizing Workers across Fragmented Production Networks, Brussels.

Eurofound (2017) Fraudulent Contracting of Work: Sham Companies (Austria, Estonia and Italy), Dublin.

Grappi G. (2016) Logistica, Roma.

INL (2018) Rapporto annuale sull’attivita di vigilanza in materia di lavoro e legislazione sociale, (access: 20 January 2020).

ISFOL (2011) Il fenomeno delle esternalizzazioni in Italia. Indagine sull’impatto dell’outsourcing sull’organizzazione aziendale, sulle relazioni industriali e sulle condizioni di tutela dei lavoratori, Roma.

Kenner J., Florczak I., Otto M. (2019) (eds.) Precarious Work. The Challenge for Labour Law in Europe, Cheltenham–Northampton.

Weil D. (2017) The Fissured Workplace. Why Work Became so Bad for so Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It, Cambridge (Mass.).


Court sentences

Judgment of Court of Cassation of 23 January 2013, No. 1630, (access: 14 January 2020).

Judgment of Court of Cassation of 7 February 2017, No. 3178,

(access: 14 January 2020).

Judgment of Tribunal of Reggio Emilia of 13 February 2018, No. 41, (access: 14 January 2020).

Judgment of Court of Cassation of 26 October 2018, No. 27213, (access: 14 January 2020).

Judgment of Tribunal of Roma of 19 February 2019, No. 1614, (access: 14 January 2020).

Pierwotną wersją czasopisma jest wersja elektroniczna publikowana w internecie.

Czasopismo zostało dofinansowane ze środków Ministerstwa Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego na podstawie umowy nr 284/WCN/2019/1 z dnia 16 lipca 2019 r. z pomocy przyznanej w ramach programu „Wsparcie dla czasopism naukowych".