Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Death of Italian Trade Unions

(Lodigs, Chaplin eyes)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - 5,000 FIAT workers will be asked to give up the right to strike on a referendum taking place next week.

FIAT will invest € 700 mln to move the production of the Panda Model from Tychy (Poland) to Pomigliano d'Arco (Naples) in 2012. The Italian plant will produce 270,000 cars a year instead of the current 35,000 (1). As a result, a Panda made in Naples would still cost € 500 to 600 more than one made in Poland (2) but FIAT will thus pursue the aim to keep part of its production in Italy. Working 40 hours a week and 120 overtime hours a year on 18 different weekly shifts (3), workers will be sanctioned if promoting strikes during mandatory overtime (4).

The continuous production FIAT aims to establish in Pomigliano cannot tolerate strikes (5). As Luciano Gallino explained, although price competition is pushing FIAT to make workers act as robots, this lack of alternatives has been determined by the surrender of politcs and law-making (6).

The right to strike is indeed the essence of industrial relations and cannot be violated (7). Only FIOM (8) clearly claimed that this right is not available for negotiation (9). The local branch of CGIL (10) exhorted workers to vote (11), while CISL (12) simply joined Confindustria (13) and the Italian Government in accusing FIOM of extremism (14). As for UIL (15), its leader proudly admitted that the age of "antagonism" is finished (16).

The denial of social conflict humiliates democracy, whose specific role is to regulate it peacefully. As Sergio Cofferati pointed out, in Pomigliano the Italian trade unions are committing suicide (17).

Nevertheless, workers are still alive in Italy as well as in Poland (18). Sooner or later, they will rise again for their rights.


(1) Paolo Picone, "In fabbrica operai già pronti al referendum",, June 15th 2010.

(2) Raffaella Polato, "Dentro la fabbrica senza pace accesa solo 5 giorni al mese",, June 15th 2010.

(3) Carmine Fotina, "Fiat sceglie il riassetto hi-tech",, June 15th 2010.

(4) Salvatore Tropea, "Marchionne voleva il consenso di tutti. Ora è tentato dalla soluzione polacca",, June 15th 2010.

(5) Paolo Griseri, "La fabbrica che non spreca un minuto. Così nasce l'operaio a ciclo continuo",, June 16th 2010.

(6) Luciano Gallino, "La globalizzazione in casa",, June 14th 2010.

(7) The Italian Constitution recognizes the right to strike, simply establishing that "The right to strike is exercised according to the law." (Italian Constitution, art. 40).

(8) Founded in 1901 and led by Maurizio Landini, the Federation of Metallurgical Employees and Workers (FIOM) is the metallurgic section of CGIL (

(9) Giorgio Pogliotti, "No Fiom all'intesa su Pomigliano",, June 15th 2010.

(10) Founded in 1906 and led by Guglielmo Epifani, the Italian General Labour Confederation (CGIL) is the main Italian trade union with an estimated 6 mln members (

(11) Patrizia Capua, "Cgil e Fiom ai ferri corti sul referendum in fabbrica",, June 17h 2010.

(12) Founded in 1948 and led by Raffaele Bonanni, the Italian Confederation of Labour Trade Unions (CISL) is the second Italian trade union with an estimated 4.5 mln members (

(13) Founded in 1910 and led by Emma Marcegaglia, Confindustria is the federation of Italian employers (

(14) "Marcegaglia: 'La Fiom accetti la sfida di Pomigliano'",, June 12th 2010.

(15) Founded in 1950 and led by Luigi Angeletti, the Italian Union of Labour is the third Italian trade union with an estimated 1,75 million members (

(16) "Pomigliano. Fiom: 'Così non possiamo firmare'",, June 14th 2010.

(17) Roberto Mania, "L'accordo è un suicidio. La sinistra immobile non sa difendere gli operai", interview with Sergio Cofferati,, June 18th 2010. Sergio Cofferati was the General Secretary of CGIL from 1994 to 2002.

(18) "Situation with Panda Production at Fiat Tichy",, May 30th 2010.

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