Agreement to promote workers' participation signed at TIM

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A recent collective agreement signed at Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) provides for the development of social dialogue and workers' participation, through information and discussion on industrial policies and joint decision-making on vocational training.

"Second-level", or company, bargaining plays a very important role in Italian industrial relations, focusing on themes which are strictly different from those of "first-level" or national sectoral bargaining. These include reinforcing worker participation in firms' management decisions along the lines of the social dialogue promoted by the European Union. It is for this reason that the new agreement between TIM and the trade unions representing telephone sector workers (Slc-Cgil, Silt-Cisl and Uilt-Uil) is important. The company, which manages mobile phones and had 5,365 employees and 5.7 million users at the end of 1996, is part of the publicly-owned Telecom group. The agreement concerns the organisation of information and participation in the company, and is known as OIP (protocollo sull'Organisazzione dell'Informazione e della Participazione).

The OIP accord deals with a new model of industrial relations based on the assertion that the development of the market and of technologies "makes necessary continuous adjustments of production, structure and organisation with the aim of increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of the firm", and that "such changes require a constant involvement of collaborators and their contribution to reaching firms' objectives". To achieve these ends "the improvement of working conditions, of professionalism and of the company climate" are indispensable. The agreement also highlights that bargaining activity in the firm can provide for "one or more preparatory phases, during which the parties commit themselves to refrain from acting in a manner that is incompatible with the industrial relations' model that they intend to promote".

To put these principles into effect, there will be advance information and discussion on the following issues:

  • lines of industrial and commercial policy;
  • economic and production prospects;
  • the group and the firm's internationalisation strategy;
  • the structure and prospects of the market and competition;
  • investments, agreements, mergers, and the opening and closing of offices;
  • changes in work organisation, promotion of positive actions for equal opportunities between men and women, and vocational training policies; and
  • developing client satisfaction.

The following bodies will be established:

  1. a general management council (CDG), made up of six members elected by the plant-level worker representative structures (RSU s), three nominees of the trade unions that signed the agreement, and six members nominated by the company;
  2. eight local councils (CT s), made up of three members nominated by the company, three by the RSU and three by the trade unions;
  3. a "guarantee authority" to resolve disputes;
  4. a parity commission responsible for training activities and support for workers' families, made up of six trade union representatives and six from the firm.

On the subjects indicated above, the CDG and the CT will express "recommendations and observations", which are to be reached unanimously, while the parity commission will experiment with "the method of joint decision-making". The parity commission will draw up "an annual plan of vocational training" and will follow up its implementation.

The main parties to the agreement have expressed satisfaction with it. For Vito Gamberale, the managing director of TIM, the agreement represents a point of "high growth and high responsibility in the relationship between firms and trade unions". For Luigi Ferrando of Uilte, the agreement should serve as a prelude to "other forms of workers' participation, such as that in company stock". Franco Domenghini of Silt-Cisl stated that up until now similar agreements have only been reached in crisis situations, whereas the TIM agreement on workers' participation "takes shape in a healthily developing firm environment". Finally, for Pino Pagliarini of Slc-Cgil the agreement demonstrates that a company "has to become completely open with regard to the workers" in order to be competitive.

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