Alitalia announces 2,600 redundancies

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In February 2002, the Italian airline Alitalia initiated a statutory procedure which may result in 2,600 redundancies, after negotiations with trade unions on labour cost reductions failed. Management and unions now have until May to reach an agreement to reduce labour costs and prevent job losses, or the redundancies will be implemented.

Faced with the crisis in the world aviation industry, the Italian national airline, Alitalia, announced a major restructuring plan in November 2001, including large-scale workforce reductions. An agreement on the plan was reached between management, trade unions and the government in January 2001, whereby redundancies would mostly be avoided through early retirement and cuts in working time and pay, while the government will provide funding to relaunch Alitalia (IT0201178F). The deal provided for further negotiations, to be completed by 15 February, on the details of the pay and working time costs to achieve the reduction in labour costs of EUR 180 million foreseen in the restructuring plan

However, no agreement was reached by the deadline. Thus, on 20 February, Alitalia management announced that it would make 2,600 employees redundant, using the 'mobility procedures' provided for in law No. 223/1991. This is a scheme whereby redundant employees receive additional benefits and are placed on mobility lists, with certain advantages in finding new employment (IT9802319F).

Alitalia have yet to specify whether or not the 2,600 redundancies will include the 815 'voluntary' redundancies previously agreed. The number of redundancies for each category of employees has, however, been established, as follows:

  • 138 pilots;
  • 386 flight attendants;
  • 1,974 ground staff; and
  • 102 flight technicians.

The final category is destined to disappear completely because flight technicians work only on Boeing 747s, which are being eliminated from the Alitalia fleet.

As stipulated in law No. 223/1991, a period of 75 days will follow during which management and unions should continue negotiations in a different and less 'aggressive' way in an attempt to reduce labour costs and prevent job losses. This could involve using 'solidarity contracts ' (contratti di solidarietà) for a large number of employees. This instrument, introduced by law No. 223/1991, involves employees accepting a reduction of working time and a corresponding pay cut. The state makes up part of the lost wages so as to limit the impact on pay packets. If an agreement is not reached by 6 May, the redundancies will automatically take place.

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