Tuesday, 9 October 2007

National Strike in Vodafone Italia

Workers went onto the streets on 5 October to demonstrate against the largest outsourcing project ever seen in the Italian telecommunications sector. The trade unions in the telecoms sector (Fistel, Slc e Uilcom) reject this categorically. They called a national strike on 5 October against the outsourcing of Vodaphone Italia’s backoffice activities to Comdata, a company headquartered in Piedmont and specialising in customer service and call centre management.

According Italian unions, the project is “socially unjust, a slap in the face for the trade unions, wrong for the future of the industry, and puts at risk the company that the market has come to know and appreciate”. The reengineering of its business processes will lead to the transfer of 914 employees (out of a total of 4,600) from one company to the other. The unions believe that this operation is “socially unjust " because it affects almost a thousand workers, mostly young women (average age 33) and jeopardizes their professional future. "A slap in the face for the trade unions", because it affects those groups of workers who have always fought for their rights and dignity, and who identify with the values of the trade union movement. "Wrong for the future of the industry ", because the company will suffer in terms of efficiency and quality, and by outsourcing customer care, Vodafone will be depriving itself of one of the fundamental and best-known assets. The plan puts at risk the current “Vodafone model", and may just be the beginning of a comprehensive downsizing of the company’s core business.

This is going to be the biggest outsourcing project ever carried out in the Italian telecoms sector. "We are very concerned for two reasons", says Armando Giacomassi, National Secretary of Fistel Cisl. “First, the workers directly affected have no real guarantees as to the future of their jobs, and in the longer term, the fear is that this is just the beginning of a corporate strategy which may affect other sectors such as IT and networks".

After the breakdown of negotiations with the corporate management, Ugl Telecomunicazioni announced that it too would join the strike on Friday. Not only has Vodafone confirmed that they do indeed plan to transfer 914 workers, they have also rejected the union’s request for the adoption of a safeguard clause obliging the company to take them back should problems arise. According to Raffaella Di Rodi, National Secretary of Fistel Cisl, this should prompt the trade union confederation to "engage a broad-based discussion in view of the sweeping changes in the telecoms sector, in order to adapt negotiating instruments and provide better protection to the workers who have to live with the consequences of corporate strategies". Workers are particularly worried that once these activities have been hived off, their jobs will be less secure and they will enjoy less protection.

The Vodafone employees who are to be transferred to Comdata are all on contracts of unlimited duration, whereas law no 30 requires that the new employer provide the same level of guarantees as the previous employer only for a period of between 6 months and one year.

"The battle has only just begun”, warns Stefano Mazzucato from Fistel Cisl from Padua. “In addition to the strike, we have also decided to rescind the agreement on the corporate training fund we had signed with Vodafone on 13 September. The company knew full well that only two days later they were going to outsource a part of their services to another company but chose not to mention it".

Monica Cat from Genua, Secretary of Fistel Cisl in the Canavese region, says: "The headquarters in Ivrea is where the impact of the transfer will be the greatest. We cannot agree to a strategy where a financially sound company sells off one of its major activities ". And what does the future hold? "We still have many unanswered questions ".

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Anonymous said...

Always funny when news sources can't spell Vodafone!!

Connect Members in Vodafone said...

bugger, thought I'd fixed all those :-)