Unemployment in Brindisi: From Welfare to Workfare – Lavori Socialmente Utili

By Antonio Maria Pusceddu

Lavori Socialmente Utili (socially useful works; LSU from now on) is a social welfare scheme that endowed public administrations with special funds to subsidize unemployed people for local community work. According to official sources (INPS – the national social security institute), by 2015 around 15.000 LSU workers were still in service, mostly concentrated in the public administrations of southern regions. Their number had increased rapidly throughout the 1990s, reaching the peak figure of almost 170.000 at the end of the decade. The first LSU program in Brindisi was initiated in 1995 and the last one in 2001. Initially, a large share of workers made redundant by the end of the construction works of the ENEL power station applied to the program. At the same time, there was a relevant share of unemployed women.
The national government has established that LSU workers subsidies have to be extinguished within the end of 2016. This means that the public administrations where they are in service are requested to present a worker stabilization plan, according to available resources. The Brindisi town hall executive director elaborated a triennial plan that should turn the remaining 81 LSU workers into actual permanent employees. The mayoral elections of June 2016 raised many expectations that a new government could have finally taken charge of the issue. However, the newly elected municipal government approved a new biennial stabilization plan for only 22 workers