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FIAT DUX - a new model for "collective bargaining"
italy / switzerland | workplace struggles | press release Wednesday January 25, 2012 18:34 by FdCA Labour Commission - Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici sindacale at fdca dot it
The new FIAT agreement came into effect on 1 January 2012 in all FIAT plants. It cancels the national collective bargaining agreement and all other existing agreements. It was accompanied by a specific contract for the car sector and the cancellation of the 2008 national collective agreement for the metalworkers section, which now goes down in history as being the last voted for by the workers themselves. [Italian]
A new model for "collective bargaining"
The new FIAT agreement came into effect on 1 January 2012 in all FIAT plants. It cancels the national collective bargaining agreement and all other existing agreements. It was accompanied by a specific contract for the car sector and the cancellation of the 2008 national collective agreement for the metalworkers section, which now goes down in history as being the last voted for by the workers themselves.
These are three steps that the bosses have taken in the space of 10 days (from 13 to 23 December 2011), which radically change the system of labour relations - and indeed social relations - in Italy. In effect, it is the end of the leading role of the workers and fighting trade unions.
It is also useful to keep in mind new legislation, some already introduced and some due to be introduced over the coming weeks, which will involve re-writing the Workers' Statute. All of this is a fundamental part of a general trend towards dismantling labour rights, eliminating the rights and protections of workers.
The agreement was signed between FIAT S.p.A (automobiles) and FIAT Industrial on the one hand, and the FIM-CISL, UILM (UIL), FISMIC, UGL-metalmeccanici, Associazione Quadri e Capi FIAT unions on the other.
It is divided into 3 parts, each subdivided into articles. The first part deals with the system of trade relations; the second deals with the organization of work; the third, with discipline and regulations, for a total of 122 pages.
Throughout the document, the company's command structure is emphasized together with the fact that nothing is negotiable any more. For example, the company can demand a total of 160 hours of overtime per year, whenever it wants, giving the worker only 48 hours notice.
System of trade relations:
This is basically reduced to the following:
"The parts (...) agree that the only effective instrument for finding coherent solutions with shared objectives is the method of engagement. (...) Consequently, they reciprocally commit themselves to agreeing that the prevention of conflict is the basis for the method of engagement."
This system is supported by 8 bilateral commissions and a study group. The system basically ensures that the company's competitiveness is henceforth based on the elimination of conflict.
The most important of the 8 commissions is the "National Conciliation Commission", which will be made up of one representative of each signatory to the agreement, with an equal number of representatives for FIAT. The secretary of the commission is appointed by FIAT. Its task will be to "examine any specific situations that may result in trade unions not respecting their undertakings. (...) At the end of the procedure, in the absence of a shared solution, the company shall decide on the basis of the responsibility clauses in the agreement".
"Company union representatives (RSAs) may be established (...) by the organizations who have signed this agreement. (...) The above trade union organizations shall nominate them". This means the end of union reps elected by the workers themselves. The 10 hours a year currently allowed for worker assemblies are no longer granted to the workers but to participating trade unions only. Each organization can request up to 4 hours (separately). The remaining 6 hours can be requested only by all the participating unions together, and new rules are established in order to avoid production being affected, for example by holding assemblies at the start or the end of a shift.
The entire agreement is an integrated system, so that all the clauses are interrelated and indivisible. Consequently, if a participating union or its RSA should fail to uphold any undertaking, it frees the company from its obligations under the contract. In effect it means that transgressors are out.
The agreement turns the unions into monitors of the behaviour of their members, and in cases where the behaviour of individuals or groups of workers may violate part or all of any clause in the agreement, the union risks being excluded.
A brief evaluationa) Democracy: the FIAT contract was validated by the vote of union reps: total number of votes - 930; total of votes cast - 637; number of "Yes" votes - 513.
513 people decided the fate of 82,000 workers.
It is obvious that workers will no longer be able to give their opinion on decisions made by the collaborating unions in matters concerning, like in this case, work, labour relations, rights and protection.
The elimination of the FIOM comes about in such a way that the union organization will disappear, as the role of the collaborating organizations is to act as a guarantor for the company's management.
Only the fascists expelled FIOM from the factories... It is worthwhile remembering this.
The FIOM has 11,516 members in FIAT, making it by far the union with the greatest number of members; furthermore, it is the union which obtained the most votes and delegates in the RSU (union rep) elections.
This is not a matter of limiting the union's ability to act (which had already happened) by means of an electoral barrier - which in the private sector stands at 5% in order to put forward a list during elections - or by means of inter-union agreements or by means of laws. Instead, the the most representative union's ability to act is being removed completely by means of a separate contract. And throughout the metalworking sector, in every company, they are trying to limit its ability to act by cancelling the collective agreement of 2008 and adopting the separate agreement of 2009 as the new point of reference.
b) Initiatives: on 2 January 2012, a campaign of assemblies and strikes was launched concerning the extension of the FIAT agreement, an agreement that concerns all workers, against the Budget, for democracy in the workplace, starting with the right for workers to choose which trade union to join and be represented by.
There will also be a continuation of the legal campaign in the courts.
c) The nation-wide demonstration of metalworkers which is due to be held on 11 February 2012 in Rome and will be open to all, will be seeking to put labour and collective bargaining at the centre of attention, against casualized labour, for union democracy and a different economic system.
d) The FIOM will now lose one and a half million euro in dues paid to it through FIAT, which the FIOM will have great difficulty in dealing with. This has led to a fund-raising campaign named "I Want The FIOM In FIAT", so as to be able to continue to carry out its union activity with FIAT workers.
The continuing worsening of the lower classes' living conditions goes hand in hand with the dismantlement of the welfare state and of our rights. And new laws are being contemplated to further increase industry's ability to hire and fire at will under conditions that it establishes. This will come to a head in late January and early February, with attempts being made to seek the cooperation of all the unions, CGIL included.
It is of vital importance that as many people as possible join the demonstration on 11 February and participate in other initiatives of this nature.
There have often been dramatic periods throughout the history of combative syndicalism, but today - unlike in the past - it is obvious that accepting the FIAT contract and all that goes with it, with separate agreements and the end of national collective bargaining, is something that the current leadership of the FIOM excludes as it would mean the end of the trade union as an expression of class autonomy from capital - in other words, unconditional surrender.
The removal of the FIOM's leadership - in order to "solve" the FIOM question - by the CGIL as a whole would be complicated and difficult to manage, if only for the very close relationship that the FIOM has with the workers: the internal right wing counts for not even 25% and though it does control some provinces, it is not in a position to play the role of alternative.
The clash can only get harder, but for a more complete idea of the situation and the likely developments, we will need to wait for the results of the FIOM Central Committee's meeting on 10 January to see how the internal minority decides to stand, and also the CGIL National Directive's meeting on 12-12 January. For the moment, demonstrations in front of the government buildings has produced precious little.
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici9 January 2012
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