Case study on flexible working practices: Azienda Napoletana Mobilità Spa, Italy
Azienda Napoletana Mobilità Spa (ANM) is a leader in public bus transport in the city of Naples. Each day, it transports some 500,000 passengers in its fleet of buses. In July 2003, ANM received the SA 8000 standard of international certification for respect for human rights and worker rights, and for its health and safety initiatives in the workplace. This standard certifies ANM as a ‘socially responsible company that operates respectfully within the rules of the work ethic’.
In the late 1980s, the company employed around 7,500 people. However, significant legal changes granting public companies more independence in budget planning, along with a hiring moratorium from 1980 to 1997, and organisational and management policies, have resulted in a reduction in employee numbers to 3,466 workers, 2,201 of whom are drivers.
As drivers are the company's most important group of employees, the majority of ANM’s personnel policies are directed at them. Most drivers (2,013) are men and the remaining 188 female employees have only been recently hired. The majority of drivers (59.5%) are aged 45 years and over: some 381 drivers are aged between 45–50 years, 504 between 51–55 years, 389 between 56–60 years, and 37 between 61–65 years.
The company’s relationship with trade unions appears cooperative, and there is good interaction between workers’ representatives and the company’s management. Overall, the company values drivers aged over 45 years for their level experience.
The original initiative
ANM's training and development initiative allowed older drivers to take weekends off every week. Introduced mainly to address older workers’ health issues, the initiative was the outcome of negotiations with the trade unions. The unions had originally requested that older workers be asked to drive for only half of each working day and that they carry out non-driving tasks for the remaining half.
Following its introduction, the initiative proved to be a great success. Older workers favoured the new schedules and their rates of absenteeism decreased. At the time of its greatest impact, the initiative involved around 170 drivers.
However, in 2003, ANM had to hire a group of young, full-time drivers – who until then had only worked as weekend replacement drivers – to cover the older workers’ weekend shifts. Due to problems in finding replacements to cover weekend schedules, the company, after negotiation with the parties concerned, decided to change the initiative significantly.
The greatest change has been the phasing out of the initiative: it is no longer available to new workers reaching the eligibility age, although those already participating in the scheme can continue as before.
Good practice today
ANM’s policy towards older workers is to re-motivate older drivers. This initiative was an important part of that policy.
It allowed older drivers to take weekends off, instead of the previous system of one day off on a rolling basis every five working days, which often meant working one or both weekend days. To cover the new weekend schedules, ANM hired a number of new workers to replace older workers participating in the programme.
The initiative had good results and currently 111 drivers are involved. Peak involvement was 170, in 2002. Since then, many drivers have retired.
Despite its success, ANM was faced with a sudden shortage of replacements for older drivers who were resting at weekends, and in the end, the company decided to abolish the programme.
The trade unions opposed this move, however, and negotiated a substantial modification to the programme, restricting participation only to drivers already taking part in the initiative. As current participants retire, the company aims to eventually phase out the programme. Although the trade unions are dissatisfied with this, they do not intend re-opening negotiations as the company seems totally opposed to continuing the programme. Instead, the unions are more interested in discussing and playing an important role in expanding the programme to include drivers of all ages. The company shares this view, in part because younger drivers, after several years of work and accumulated experience, are beginning to request improved working conditions.
New initiatives introduced are quite different to the previous one. For example, a new timetable for successive shifts, implemented in 2000, has better working hours and time off for all drivers, not just for older ones. It requires drivers to be available for daily fragmented rather than continuous shifts, in exchange for more Saturdays and Sundays off. So far, the initiative has proved successful.
ANM is aware that its number of older employees will increase. Some programmes, open to drivers of all ages, are already in force and have benefited older workers in particular. They include the successive-shift timetable and the provision for drivers with health problems to work on fixed shifts only.
Other initiatives, targeted exclusively at older drivers, are still in the planning stages. They include using older drivers on shorter routes and on routes that are less demanding in terms of driving times, traffic and the number of stops. Another proposal is to allow drivers to choose a fixed driving shift, as in the case of fixed shifts for health reasons. The company expects that once implemented, the initiatives will lead to higher productivity and less absenteeism.
ANM also plans to deal with issues relating to ergonomics, job design and health promotion, and to increase training in these areas. Already, the company has identified at least one critical problem concerning vibrations at the driving post, which in Naples is caused mostly by poor road surfaces. The company’s latest risk plan and the agenda of the workers’ representatives both identify this as a significant problem. Workers want more comfortable, air-conditioned buses, with the driver's area isolated from the rest of the bus. Separation is important for security, especially in some Naples’ districts.
- Dr. Paolo Tanturri, Responsible for quality and management certification
- Dr. Davide Gargiulo, Responsible for SA 8,000 Quality and Management Unit, Email: qualità@anm.it
- Dr. GiuseppeToso, Responsible for trade union relations
- Dr. Rosario Busco. Collaborator of Dr Toso
- Representing the workers: SA 8000 group representatives – the criteria adopted for their election is one representative from each trade union group present in the company (Cgil, Cisl, Uil, Ugl and Faisa-Cisal).
- References: Mr. Giovanni Galiero, Mr. Fulvio Fasano, Mr. Nicola Ciummo and Mr. Adamo Pastore.
- website: www.anm.it