Lettori break ranks

June 27, 1997

Foreign language teachers struggling for equal treatment with mainstream academics are split over who should represent them. Of the estimated 1,300 lettori employed in Italy's 65 state universities, about half have opted for the Committee for the Defence of Foreign Lecturers, which demanded that they leave the union of university employees and negotiate only through the committee, while the rest have decided to stay with the official union.

The split comes in the run-up to a deadline for Italy to comply with European Union directives to give language teachers equality with lecturers on the grounds that they are de facto lecturers who do more than teach languages and even sit on exam commissions. The vast majority are foreigners, while most career academics are Italians, leading to charges of discrimination and of using the lettori as cut-price lecturers.

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