Separate agreement leads to expulsion of FIOM from Fiat Italian factories

Workers of the FIOM union are marching
Workers of the FIOM union are marching

Thousands of FIAT workers will no longer be represented by FIOM, the main Italian union of mechanical industrial workers.

Submitted by StrugglesInItaly on January 22, 2012

In a unilateral decision, on December 22 (2011), the main industrial group of Italy cancelled the collective bargaining agreement with its plants, while at the same time abandoning Confindustria (the Italian Association of Industry Owners). The collective agreement was replaced by a separate agreement that was approved in Pomigliano d’Arco (NA), with a direct vote of the workers (that is, bypassing unions) in the summer of 2010. The yes vote had prevailed with 63% of consensus; yet the vote had been biased by the reiterated threats of shutting down the production if the workers had rejected this agreement.

The new rules require workers to be available for up to 120 hours of overtime per month (rather than 40 in the national collective agreement), 18 shifts per week (rather than 10), and shorter breaks; the management also refuses to pay sick leave during periods they define as marked by excessive “absenteeism,” even if the illness is confirmed by a doctor. The same rules also exclude from FIAT plants any representatives of those unions that did not endorse the collective agreement now in force, including FIOM.

FIOM did not approve the collective agreement, which was separately signed by the other unions (FIM and UIM, two unions of centre-right). As a direct consequence, FIAT workers will no longer be able to elect their delegates from the ranks of FIOM. FIOM is also denied the right to hold assemblies or post material in the noticeboards, nor is it allowed to charge any representation fees from its members. This applies to future and past elections as well.

In the Magneti Marelli plant of Bologna, for instance, FIOM had obtained the majority, with 6 representatives and a consensus share of 60%. The executive of FIOM asked to have its representatives recognized, and plans to appeal to the Labour Court if the management – as it likely will – rejects their request. Meanwhile, FIOM representatives had to clear their offices on January 14, leaving the factory where they had been present since many decades.

This unprecedented decision heavily affects the workers’ right to be democratically unionized: the expulsion of FIOM from the main industrial group of Italy is, literally, a step backwards of many decades.

Meanwhile, Sergio Marchionne (CEO of FIAT and Chrysler) continues his open war against the union cultures and especially against the strongest and most uncompromising Italian union, by threatening to shut down the Italian plants of FIAT. On January 13, he insisted that in the likely event of a fusion between Chrysler and Fiat Industrial, the choice whether to maintain productive plants in Italy (and in Europe) will depend on the “reliability” of the unions.

More sources (both in English and Italian) are available here.