It should have been just the implementation decree for the 31 May agreement but it has turned into a new agreement, with an even harsher level of repression against workers’ struggles.
The agreement regulates relations between Confindustria (the major employers’ organization in Italy) and the three confederal unions CGIL, CISL and UIL, and limits workers’ trade union rights severely. It sets out that only those unions which signed the 31 May agreement can take part in negotiations about workers’ future. What’s more, it has introduced a system of ‘certification’ for members. The weight of a union in a workplace will be established by counting the delegates and the ‘certified’ members. But union members can only be certified if their union has signed the contract that’s in use in a workplace.
The FIOM CGIL union (the metalworkers’ section of the CGIL union, once its most combative and left-wing part) did not sign the contract in use in Fiat factories, and for this reason it is not longer recognised by the company. The Constitutional Court (Corte Costituzionale) decreed that FIOM must be allowed to have a presence in Fiat plants but the new agreement essentially makes this pronouncement ineffective. The agreement also excludes the base unions from any negotiations, which will be confined to the confederal unions.
As Carlo Guglielmi, lawyer and member of the USB union, says, this agreement ‘deprives the workers of the possibility of choosing who represents them. First you must accept not to strike and to obey, and then you are allowed to have union rights. The majority of the signatory unions will decide about the contracts and the minority can only surrender.’
The agreement actually introduces stronger control by the unions’ central bureaucracies over local and factory structures, forces the unions to accept no-strike clauses and also introduces a system of penalties for those who do strike. As if this weren’t enough, agreements signed through this new kind of negotiation (which gives all the power to the unions closest to the employers) can ignore the national contracts that up to now (with the exception of Fiat) have shielded factory workers against total deregulation.
Maurizio Landini, the FIOM secretary, has said that this new agreement was signed without any discussion, even by the main union committee, but his words sound like a rather weak reproval. FIOM is no longer the fighting union of 2010 and 2011, when not only metalworkers but also the left wing in general looked to it as a guide. Now it has returned to shelter under the umbrella of the CGIL central structure, a CGIL that has never been so accommodating to the interests of big business as under the secretaryship of Susanna Camusso, and Landini has given his endorsement to Matteo Renzi, the most right-wing secretary that the Democratic Party has ever had.
The CGIL will soon hold its congress, and it seems as though FIOM will fall in with the line established during Camusso’s CGIL secretaryship. The newly signed agreement weakens workers’ union rights but, even before this, they were weaker than they had ever been.
Confindustria’s goal, as declared by Stefano Dolcetta, vice-president for industrial relations, was to “prevent conflict”, and all the major unions, CGILincluded, are helping.