Unions divided on flexibility in reorganisation of Rome's environmental services

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In June 1999, an agreement was signed on the reorganisation of Rome's public environmental services company, Ama, leading to differences between the three main trade union confederations. Cisl and Uil disagree with Cgil on the way in which 2,200 people will be recruited by the newly-established company, Ama city.

The reorganisation of Azienda Municipalizzata Ambiente (Ama), Rome's public environmental services company - which has 6,000 workers and an annual turnover of ITL 600 billion - has been subject to lengthy negotiations between the Cgil, Cisl and Uil trade union confederations and the company's management. Ama's reorganisation aims to prepare it to deal with problems linked to the celebration of the "Great Jubilee" in 2000 which, when 25 million visitors are expected in Rome (IT9906116N).

A reorganisation plan was signed by management and Cisl and Uil on 22 June 1999, providing for the division of Ama in two main companies:

  • Ama holding, which will manage all the equipment and structures connected with waste processing and recycling; and
  • Ama city, which manage all waste-collection activities and services required by clients. This new company will seek to "personalise" waste-collection work, so as to provide a more efficient service, closer to the needs of neighborhoods and of citizens.

Ama holding will still be a public company owned by the municipality of Rome and as such it will apply the national collective agreement for the public sector. Ama city, by contrast, will become a private company and will thus apply the relevant private sector national collective agreement.

Ama city is willing hire young people if there is an opportunity of using employment contracts which provide for reduced labour costs. Some 2,200 young workers will thus be hired on part-time contracts (20 hours per week) at the starting job-classification level set out in the private sector collective agreement, which involves lower labour costs than the public sector agreement. After two years, the workers will be given full-time contracts but they will stay at the same job-classification level.

Diverging opinions have arisen among trade unions over Ama city's application of the private rather than public sector agreement. Cisl and Uil, in order to foster youth employment, accepted the new arrangements. Cgil, on the contrary, refused to sign the agreement because it does not want to accept the division of Ama into two companies and the application of two different agreements

Walter Cerfeda, confederal secretary of Cgil, said that his union refuses to classify the Ama employees into "first- and second-division workers". Angelo Braggio, secretary of Cisl's Rome and Lazio region, is sure that Cgil's difference of opinions is "only a bargaining strategy and it is necessary to consider that now the companies have different needs. For us, is not logical to keep applying to private companies the same agreements as apply to public companies". Guglielmo Loi, general secretary of Uil Lazio, is more outspoken: "this is a company which will guarantee an efficient service thanks to the increase in the number of workers and the reduction of costs. The plan presented satisfies both conditions."

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