Agreement signed on reorganisation of postal service

On 27 July 2010, Poste Italiane Spa and the sectoral trade unions signed an agreement to reorganise Italy’s postal services in the anticipation of full liberalisation of the postal market. Instead of the 10,700 redundancies proposed by Poste Italiane in 2009, 5,850 workers will be reallocated within the company. The agreement also announced a different working organisation and development of new services.

About the company

Poste Italiane Spa is the largest Italian postal service organisation. It was founded in 1998 following the restructuring of a public body which controlled 100% of Italian post and telegraph services, and the Italian state remains the majority shareholder. Over the past 10 years, significant reorganisation has taken place leading to an increase in the range of services available through the group’s 12 companies (such as postal services, financial services and management of outsourcing processes). The group employs more than 150,000 people in 14,000 post offices throughout Italy.

Poste Italiane controls 93.7% of the Italian postal market (data from Poste Italiane, 2008) because it still maintains the universal service monopoly. Liberalisation of the postal sector, which is set to be completed on 1 January 2011 (Directive 2008/6/EC (114Kb PDF)), together with the current reduction in the size of the market, led the company to engage in a process of profound restructuring.

Contents of agreement

The agreement (in Italian, 144Kb PDF) signed on 27 July 2010 followed a year of bargaining between Poste Italiane and the sector’s trade unions over the reorganisation and development of postal services. The unions involved in the collective bargaining were:

The process of reorganisation will be tested at local level in a number of areas before being implemented countrywide. The results will be analysed and evaluated by the social partners at national level. In the agreement, the company also committed to not modifying the company structure in its industrial plan for 2011–2013.

Effects on jobs

Regarding the 10,700 redundancies announced by Poste Italiane in its 2009 industrial plan, the agreement includes:

  • the transfer of 5,850 workers from postal services (mostly delivery and logistics) to other posts within the company (mainly in post offices) with vocational training courses being set up to retrain these workers;
  • an offer of financial incentives to workers in all organisational areas who decide to end their working relationship with the company;
  • voluntary transformation of working relationships from full time to part time in order to rebalance employment levels;
  • the setting up of a company solidarity fund for a maximum of 500 workers nearing retirement age. In a voluntary arrangement, these workers will be able to draw benefits from the fund so that they are guaranteed income support and payment of their social security contributions for the time between their exit from the company and qualifying for retirement.

Reorganisation of postal services

The agreement also foresees reorganisation of the postal sector through the introduction of a new organisational model and development of new services. This will also help the company to strengthen its position against new competitors.

The central element of the new organisational model concerns daily working hours and scheduling of the 36-hour week in delivery, logistics and transport. Employees in these services will work five days a week (instead of six) with a workday of seven hours and 12 minutes. This will make it possible for the company to extend its delivery services to cover the entire day (from 08.00 to 20.00) from Monday to Friday and also Saturday morning.

With regard to diversification and improvement of services, the agreement foresees the creation of a web portal for e-commerce, investment in new technology, and the improvement of sales and post-sales services.

Treatment of short-term contracts

The relevant social partners also signed an accessory agreement (in Italian, 669Kb PDF) on 27 July 2010 which resolved a dispute concerning about 30,000 workers (called ‘ex-CTD’ workers) who were formerly on fixed-term contracts but had been rehired repeatedly by Poste Italiane on three-month contracts since the late 1990s. The dispute started when many of these workers went to court, which confirmed their right to be hired through indefinite contracts. However, the company appealed against the ruling and the dispute had not been officially resolved. An initial agreement (in Italian, 446Kb PDF) between the actors, signed on 13 January 2006, provided a definitive solution for some 13,000 workers on condition that they abandoned the legal action and returned any compensation they might have received from the company. Under the same conditions, the accessory agreement foresees further consolidation of the working relationship of other workers who were on fixed-term contracts and had already been hired on open-ended contracts by the court’s decision.

Reactions of social partners

In a joint statement, the trade unions said the agreement deals effectively with the delicate processes of reorganisation, while at the same time guaranteeing stability and ensuring the future of the sector. Massimo Sarmi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Poste Italiane, said that the agreement with the trade unions confirms the actors’ sense of responsibility and their ability to identify the most efficient organisational models.

Sofia Sanz, Cesos

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