Friday, June 17, 2011

Word of the week- cocopro

In reading Italian newspapers, you might come upon this neologism, which is actually an acronym. Cocopro stands for contratto di collaborazione per programma, replacing the even more demented term cococo, or contratto di collaborazione coordinata e continuativa. They are basically forms of contract work where the worker is not an employee.

Whatever you call them, they're the result of years of steady erosion of workers' compensation, benefits and above all security. The Italians did and still do have something of a fetish for being hired, which is called assumere in Italian. The participle assunto/assunta (especially in its feminine form) brings to (my) mind the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to heaven, and I think many Italians see it in the same beatific light. The country has gone from an extreme of lifelong guaranteed employment and unsustainable pensions to a nightmare where more and more people are underemployed precari (temp/part-time workers). Many college graduates work in call centers as customer service representatives, others go from job to job doing work that is completely unrelated to their education or aspirations. If they still have aspirations.

So much for la dolce vita.

(In the picture, Titian's Assunta in the Frari Church, Venice)