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Alitalia’s workers confirming strike on April 5 to challenge 2,037 layoffs

by Giorgio Pogliotti

A mix of social safety nets, voluntary resignations, and outsourcings must be combined to reduce the impact of Alitalia’s firings.

The topic of how to manage the 2,037 layoffs (of which 1,338 had permanent contracts, 558 had fixed-term contracts, and 141 were employed abroad) was the focus of the discussion between the company and the union at the technical meeting yesterday, which convened at the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE).

The discussion mainly focused on the so-called ‘third-party employees’, namely workers who are involved in activities that the company intends to outsource: a total of 640 workers with permanent contracts (but the union is also including 102 workers with fixed-term contracts and 71 workers abroad).

Roughly 324 maintenance workers are preparing to be transferred to Atitech, but the remaining 316 permanent contracts have been considered redundant—though this figure jumps to 489 if fixed-term contracts and foreign workers are included. The future is largely unknown, since it’s expected that their jobs will be transferred (comprising 15-20 sectors, including finances, call centers, and contact centers) without any guarantees for the workers.

With these outsourcings, Alitalia is hoping to save 30% of their costs. As for the flight crew, Alitalia’s plan is expected to save €78 million, €70 million of which will be achieved through salary cuts and the remaining €8 million will come in the form of cuts to certain payroll items, as well as reducing their on-board personnel.

Before their meeting at the MISE, Alitalia’s representatives went to the Ministry of Labor in order to discuss social safety nets (the unions had also gone on Thursday): they argued in favor of incentivizing voluntary resignations with the support of the Naspi (the New Social Insurance Prevision for Employment, which took the place of the old unemployment benefits) for two years, on top of which the sector’s Solidarity Fund could add another two years (they’re verifying its economic sustainability), as well as the company’s own incentives. Another tool for reducing the impact of these firings is an appeal to the Extraordinary Layoff Benefits Fund for 12 months.

“This scenario is completely negative,” claims FILT-CGIL’s Nino Cortorillo, “as the outsourcings were done only through asset disposals, and they’re in danger of creating an even greater number of redundancies. We’ve proposed negotiations to avoid outsourcings, pinpointing several organizational models that would satisfy their need to save money. All of this is unacceptable to us, and at this point a strike is inevitable.”

On April 6th, the day after the strike, they will resume negotiations: Minister Carlo Calenda has stated his goal of concluding these talks by April 13th. Alitalia’s money will run out by that day, and the shareholders have stated that, to proceed with a new cash injection, a deal will have to be struck with the union.

Therefore, on Wednesday, April 5th, the unions will call a 24-hour strike, in accordance with the agreed-upon schedule (from 7-10 a.m., and from 6-9 p.m.). Alitalia has already come up with a contingency plan in order to reduce inconveniences: the company has “re-booked 92% of the affected passengers on other flights,” and has asked travelers that are leaving between the evening of April 4th and the morning of April 6th to confirm the status of their flights before coming to the airport.

They can do so by calling the toll-free number 800-65-00-55 (in Italy) or +39-06-65649 (from abroad), or by contacting the travel agency where they purchased their ticket (alitalia.com has a full list of the cancelled flights).