Union warns of 12,000 job losses at Poste Italiane

Italian communications industry union SLC-CGIL has warned that 12,000 jobs across Italy could be at risk from Poste Italiane’s plans to reorganise its business model. The union’s secretary general, Emilio Miceli, wrote to other industry unions last week after talks with Poste Italiane revealed that the first five regions to have operations reorganised could see 1,700 workers made redundant.

Miceli said projecting the figure onto a national scale could see 10,000 to 12,000 jobs lost.

In his letter, the union leader said Poste Italiane’s plans should be discussed with the workers, and called on all unions to come together on the issue to negotiate with Poste Italiane, take legal action or potentially call strike action.

He said: “It is time for accountability and clarity. At SLC/CGIL, we are ready to negotiate right now, and we are also ready to call the workers to fight if necessary.”

Last month Poste Italiane said its postal revenues were down 5% in 2011 compared to the year before as more people switch to Internet-based communications.

Cuts

Poste Italiane’s latest reorganisation plans in response to the ongoing declines in mail volumes was revealed by the postal operator at a meeting with industry unions last month.

Following that meeting, the SLC/CGIL described Poste Italiane’s plans to cut delivery as “short sighted”, and complained that the company was going to attempt to downplay its planned job losses by announcing them in “small doses” through a regional implementation of the reorganisation plans.

“The decisions that affect the first five regions – Tuscany, Piedmont, Marche Emilia Romagna and Basilicata – talk specifically about measures in operations and delivery that would produce 1,763 redundancies.

“On this balance, the total of planned actions would generate a 20% cut if projected on a national scale, which gives us a rather different figure – around 12,000 redundancies.”

The SLC/CGIL said the Poste Italiane plans were “absolutely untenable” after the “heavy and painful reorganisation” seen over the past 15 months under the last collective bargaining agreement.

In his letter last week, Miceli he complained that the only ideas being taken “seriously” by postal service management at the moment was cutting down on delivery services, such as by eliminating Saturday delivery.

“We do not agree – indeed, we have an alternative idea and demand to be heard,” he said, “and especially we have no intention of discussing this regarding the future of thousands of workers and employees who are one of the main assets of the company.”

The union leader said the logistics business was the future of the postal service, and that Poste Italiane needs to do more to expand in the distance-selling market, delivering “across cities, countries and continents”.

Union unity

However, in his letter Miceli conceded that the issue of how to respond to Poste Italiane management was complicated at the moment among different union groups that have different interests.

But he said even those that have recently signed collective bargaining agreements protecting their workers “cannot behave as if they were uninterested in the problem”, warning that there were 150,000 employees “increasingly anxious and worried about their future”.

A failure to come together on the threatened job losses could undermine the whole system of industrial relations with Poste Italiane, Miceli warned.

He said: “We know no union, weak or strong, would be able to bear the brunt of the restructuring of the company alone.”

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