The auto workers gathered this week in Piazza Castello, in the heart of Turin, on the day before the fateful “Investor Day” which was organized Friday at Balocco, in Vercelli province, where Sergio Marchionne presented Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) business plan for 2018-2022, the final one under the current administration.
At the same time, the FIOM union launched “Workers Day,” a series of initiatives throughout Italy, featuring the handing out of leaflets and workers’ meetings, everywhere from the Maserati plant in Grugliasco to the Sata factory in Melfi, to bring to everyone’s attention the issues of full employment of the workforce, contracting, investment, innovation, and democracy in the factories.
The public meeting Friday, taking place on the eve of the Workers Day, was inaugurated by Federico Bellono, the secretary of FIOM Turin, and saw the participation of Michele De Palma, the national secretary of FIOM, as well as delegates from the companies FCA and CNHI.
The meeting’s conclusions were summed up by Francesca Re David, the general secretary of FIOM: “We would like FCA to tell us what they really intend to do. They have not complied with any of the industrial plans they have presented since 2010.”
Concern about their future runs high among the workers. “Four years after the last Investor Day,” FIOM explains, “the company’s goals of putting assets to optimal use, increasing earnings and profits and the gradual elimination of the industrial debt have all been achieved. However, the targets announced in all the industrial and employment plans that have been put forward from 2010 to the present day have not been achieved.”
In their previous 2014-2018 business plan, FCA announced 27 new vehicle models for the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Maserati lines, yet only 12 were actually built. In 2017, only around 750,000 cars were produced in total, while the goal was to reach 1,400,000 units.
And the goal of full employment of the workforce has not been achieved either: at Mirafiori, Pomigliano and Grugliasco, 5,508 employees are considered surplus out of a total of 10,092; at Pomigliano in particular, the lines are operating at less than 50 percent capacity, and the main plants are again putting workers on temporary redundancy, tapping the State’s Wages Guarantee Fund.
“FIOM has gone out into the streets, but the other trade unions should have been here too, those who in 2011 and 2014 persuaded the workers to trade away their rights for the promise of work,” De Palma said. 2018, he added, “was to be the year of full employment, and instead we have workers being put on welfare, and the situation will not improve in 2019 either.”
In recent years, FIOM has been excluded from official negotiations and from the selection of delegates, yet in every free election it shows itself as the largest trade union among FCA, CNHI and Magneti Marelli, in particular in the elections for Worker’s Safety Representatives—as happened recently in the latest elections at Melfi.
“We demand the organizing of a unified round table at the national level with the management of the company, in order to achieve an agreement on employment which would provide work for all, by investing in the main facilities, from research and development to the assembly floor.” FIOM considers it essential that models should be produced ranging from premium to mass-market vehicles, from eco-friendly vehicles—gas, LPG, hybrid and electric—to self-driving cars. Re David is convinced that “if the FCA were to only manufacture premium models in Italy, that would be an absolute disaster.”
She explains: “Both at Pomigliano and in Turin, it is not possible to ensure work for all employees when producing the premium range, which guarantees more profitability, but not full employment of the workforce. At the same time, the lower-priced range would ensure more work is available.”
She accused Fiat of having essentially “switched off” research and development in Italy: “In the US, state subsidies have been tied to innovation, while in Italy no government has even looked at automakers’ plans.”
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