Sunday, 2 January 2011

Do Unions Still Represent Workers?

(bitchcakesny, Working Class Hero)

[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The debate over rights of workers at FIAT burnt up this week.

Following separate deals with FIM-CISL and UILM - two of the main unions of Italian metalworkers - both in Mirafiori (Turin) and Pomigliano (Naples) workers will not choose their own representatives: unions refusing to sign a deal with the employer will indeed not be able to represent workers (1).

FIOM-CGIL - the most representative union of Italian metalworkers - refused to come to a pact with FIAT, claiming that rights are not available for negotiatons (2).

Admittedly, to grant jobs in Italy FIAT is in desperate need of increasing the productivity of work. In 2009, 6,100 workers in Tichy (Poland) were able to make 610,000 cars. Over the same period, in Mirafiori 5,800 workers made 178,000 cars (3).

But is it the price worthwhile for workers?

On the one hand, Tito Boeri explains, labour contracts must be binding and effective both for workers and employers; on the other hand, however, the right to choose the representatives of workers does not belong to the employer (4).

Moreover, as noticed by Stefano Rodotà, FIAT is a company and cannot behave as if it were a legislator (5): CISL and UIL actually look like mismatching democracy with a dictatoriship of the majority.

The truth, in our opinion, is that FIAT has chosen the American capital-centered paradigm once and for all: FIAT came to the rescue of Chrysler, but it looks as if Chrysler bought FIAT (6).

Government and politics were absent (7), while they might have helped FIAT to opt for the German human-centered paradigm.

Is the game lost?

As noticed by Luciano Gallino, FIOM-CGIL is still the main trade union of Italian metalworkers: in the future, its leading presence amongst FIAT suppliers may be decisive (8).


(1) Roberto Mania, "Con le newco del Lingotto arriva il Big Bang sindacale",, December 30th 2010.

(2) G. Pog., "La Fiom proclama uno sciopero di 8 ore",, December 30th 2010.

(3) In Pomigliano, the proportion came to a staggering 5,200 workers for 36,000 cars produced. Read Stefano Feltri, "FIAT, l'ultima spallata di Marchionne",, December 28th 2010.

(4) Tito Boeri, "Le regole dimenticate",, December 29th 2010.

(5) Stefano Rodotà, "Quando il fango cancella la politica",, December 29th 2010.

(6) Massimo Giannini, "Sistema Marchionne",, December 30th 2010.

(7) Salvatore Tropea, "Il lavoro può attendere",, November 6th 2010.

(8) Luciano Gallino, "L'America a Torino",, December 24th 2010.

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