According to the Secretary of Culture -- and Silvio Berlusconi's right hand man -- Sandro Bondi, the "Decreto Bondi" just approved into law by the Italian Parliament is "indispensable to save italian opera houses from bankruptcy".
According to the unions, the law will murder Italian culture.
Opera Chic took the time to read the (almost 20-page-long) actual document (so that you don't have to -- because frankly, it's not exactly fun and it's in trixsy Italian legalese) and has figured out that:
1) after some tinkering by the Italian President and by Parliament, the law is not as harsh as it was originally stated.
2) it mostly deals with hiring practices at Italy's Enti Lirici(the foundations that actually run Italy's opera houses), touches the (very Italian, possibly outdated) mechanism of collective bargaining, and requests a renegotiation of old contracts, signed in 2003 by the unions. It also changes the rules to award bonuses to workers.
BUT, and this is a pretty important "but", an actual reform of the opera houses will only come in 18 months -- therefore, we have a year and a half (or more, this being Italy) of more bargaining (and, one fears -- more strikes).
This is not, in fact, a comprehensive reform of the Enti Lirici(the last one was signed in the mid-1990s and nobody likes it anymore, not even the unions).
The new rules extrapolate on a number of provisions:
Bonus package rules have been tightened; government will have more oversight on hiring regulations and the collective bargaining between unions and opera houses; there are new rules for the retirement ages of ballet dancers; comprehensive reform has to happen in 18 months; and there are new self-governance rules for opera houses.
In short, management has right to argue that the new law will make it harder for them to run the opera houses, and yes there will be less money available. But this doesn't appear to be a comprehensive reform that by itself will sink italian opera houses. Of course the Berlusconi government doesn't have any interest in culture or the opera, so this is really not a law that unions might like anyway since it's been written by a government that doesn't exactly -- to put it politely -- have unions in its base.