Role for unions in new agreement at Finmeccanica

A deal signed by Finmeccanica, one of the biggest industrial groups in Italy, and three Italian unions on 16 April 2013, aims to increase the competitiveness of the group and establishes three new ways to ensure that trade unions are involved in the planning and implementation of the group’s strategies. The agreement also identifies industrial relations issues such as production premiums, job classification systems and company welfare, to be discussed by the group.

Background

Finmeccanica is one of the biggest industrial groups in Italy and the Ministry of the Economy controls 30.2% of its shares.

The company boasts more than 400 sites worldwide, employing 67,300 people, of which 27,800 work abroad. Finmeccanica manufactures high-technology products in the metalworking sector (including products used in aeronautics, helicopters, electronics for defence and security, space exploration, energy and transport).

The introduction of the agreement shows that the important role of the trade unions in the development of the group is fully recognised. Finmeccanica says its dialogue with the unions will be ‘open, transparent and productive’.

The agreement

The agreement was signed on 16 April 2013 by the representatives of Finmeccanica and the Federation of Metallurgical Employees and Workers (FIOM), the Italian Federation of Metalworkers (FIM) and the Italian Metalworkers’ Union (UILM).

The agreement defines a number of measures to allow the unions to be fully informed and consulted about the company's strategies and development. As the company is listed on the stock market, the unions have agreed not to reveal any ‘price sensitive’ information they obtain.

The agreement also identifies issues to be discussed concerning the group’s system of industrial relations and it foresees the possibility of setting up specific commissions.

Three main measures

The agreement provides for three main measures:

  • an observatory regarding Finmeccanica’s strategies;
  • a national sectoral observatory;
  • consultations at international level.

The first observatory will comprise the company's top management and a representative of each of the three unions and they will meet twice a year. It will supply information regarding the prospects of the group and its strategic choices (economic trend, competitiveness, alliances, research and development, and so on). The union representatives can also be invited to participate in some of the group’s management committee meetings. On those occasions, the unions will be able to receive information concerning ‘critical business’ issues and important initiatives and they will be able to express their views and opinions.

The national sectoral observatory will also comprise the company's top management, plus representatives from the group’s subsidiary companies, and a maximum of two representatives from each union. This observatory will, at least once a year, verify trends in the sector and analyse their impact on employment and production levels.

The third measure is a set of meetings to analyse and compare international issues such as:

  • organisation of work;
  • environment;
  • health and safety;
  • vocational training and professional development;
  • technological innovation.

In order to develop this system of comparison, there will be an increase in the use of the European Works Council (EWC) and the international framework agreements.

System of industrial relations

The issues to be covered can be divided into three distinct groups.

  • Issues to be defined at group level: role, composition and dimensions of the trade union coordinating bodies, procedures to reduce collective conflicts, vocational training and transfer of competences, equal opportunities, environment, and health and safety.
  • Matters to be identified which must be jointly applied to the companies in the group: active labour policies, management of employment issues following industrial restructuring.
  • Issues to be dealt with at company level (for which group-level bargaining will identify guidelines and procedures to be applied by the actors): production premiums, job classification systems, company welfare and company competitiveness.

Reactions to the agreement

According to the chief operating officer of Finmeccanica, Alessandro Pansa, the protocol resembles the German system. He said

The British model, which only protects the interests of the shareholders and the financial markets, is no longer sufficient. A new system is necessary which will protect production levels.

Raffaele Bonanni, General Secretary of the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL),

this is the participation model for workers which CISL intends to export [to] all the big Italian companies.

Elena Lattuada, Confederal Secretary of the General Confederation of Italian Workers (CGIL) is of the opinion that the agreement

guarantees that the trade unions will understand company trends and be therefore in a position to organise joint policies regarding delicate matters such as competitiveness, productivity premiums, and job classification systems.

According to Giovanni Contento, National secretary of UILM, the objective of the deal is to

study new forms of protection and support following company restructuring.

Vilma Rinolfi, Cesos

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