Agreement on workforce reduction and working time signed at Nestlé
In February 2003, an agreement was signed by management and trade unions at the Nestlé plant in Perugia, Italy, which deals with the employment consequences of a restructuring plan. Nearly 200 workers will leave the company, with financial assistance, while the employment of part-time and seasonal workers will be stabilised. The agreement also introduces more flexible working time through a new shift system.
Nestlé, the Swiss-based multinational food company, has been present in Italy since 1924. The group has the highest single share of the Italian food market, at more than EUR 2.76 billion in 2001, and has more than 70 brands. These include the Perugina, Motta and Buitoni brands which formerly belonged to Italian companies acquired by Nestlé over the years. Nestlé's core area of activity in Italy is the confectionery and ice cream market, followed by prepared food products, milk products, diet products and beverages.
Nestlé Italiana SpA employs about 5,000 workers, counting both employees on open-ended contracts and seasonal workers. Nestlé's supply and distribution chain involves more than 1,000 companies and employs more than 15,000 people. The Nestlé-Perugina plant located in San Sisto (Perugia) is the largest of Nestlé's nine sites in Italy. It produces chocolate and confectionery products, including Baci, Nesquik, Nestlé chocolate, Galak and Perugina.
On 27 February 2003, after six months of negotiations, company management and trade unions signed an agreement for the Nestlé-Perugina plant, aimed at dealing with the employment consequences of the company's new industrial plan - Nestlé had initially proposed making 220 recently recruited workers redundant - and making working time more flexible. The trade union signatories were: the Italian Food Federation (Federazione Alimentaristi Italiani, Fai) affiliated to the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori, Cisl); the Italian Federation of Food Workers (Federazione Italiana Lavoratori Alimentari, Flai) affiliated to the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, Cgil); the Italian Union of Food Workers (Unione Italiana Lavoratori Alimentari, Uila) affiliated to the Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro, Uil); and the General Labour Union (Unione Generale del Lavoro, Ugl).
With regard to employment at Nestlé-Perugina, on the basis of the agreement the company will take the following actions:
- seasonal workers who have worked for the company for at least four months will be hired on a part-time contract for 12 months or, where possible, on apprenticeship or work/study contracts in view of a possible transformation of their employment relationship into an open-ended contract, after the partners have assessed the situation (ie before 31 March 2004);
- workers already hired on part-time contracts and who have worked for the company for at least 1,800 hours during the past year will see their contracts changed into a full-time contracts;
- 190 redundant workers (70 white-collar and 120 blue-collar) will be placed on a 'mobility' scheme, whereby they receive a state allowance and benefit from various measures to help them find work (IT9802319F). These will be chosen from among workers who already meet the contribution requirements for an old-age or seniority pension, or workers who will accrue these requirements during the mobility period. In the latter case, the company will top up the mobility allowance to 70% of the worker's previous annual remuneration. This top-up will not be lower than EUR 3,000 gross per year and will also be paid to the workers after the mobility period in order to guarantee an income if they are not yet entitled to a pension. All the workers on the mobility scheme may be employed for seasonal work by the company on fixed-term contracts; and
- the company will pay an incentive of EUR 10,000 gross to workers taking voluntary redundancy.
The agreement provides for the introduction of six-hour daily shifts on six days a week (known as 6x6). Workers on open-ended contracts may work on the new shift system for a maximum of five weeks in 2003, 10 weeks in 2004, and 15 in 2005. The company will pay a bonus for each week worked on the 6x6 shift, ranging from EUR 5 (for those working the new shifts up to five weeks per year) to EUR 10 (up to 15 weeks per year). During the annual information meeting foreseen by the relevant national collective agreement, the partners will discuss the new shift system, along with the company’s production performance.
The signatories welcomed the agreement. The trade unions underlined the importance of the deal because they managed to achieve 190 'soft' departures from the company instead of the 220 redundancies forecast by the company. According to the unions 'the stabilisation of employment at Nestlé in Perugia was achieved'.