Fiat is determined to drag their Italian operations into the 21st century, says The New York Times. Lacksadaisical attitudes produced some novel ways of shirking work. Some examples include calling sick at Fiat (remember, you get paid in full even if you call sick) and using that time to work another job or faking a doctor’s note. The latter is particularly used when a local football team is playing. Well, no more, according to Marchionne. He wants to impose foreign style work standards to encourage more pride in Italian workers’ jobs and improve the competitiveness of Italian factories. Some have an opposite view.
“He wants to impose American-style standards,” said Nello Niglio, a factory worker. Signore Niglio believes that Sergio wants to Italian workers to work longer hours and cut back on absences, but his reaction to this? “But too much work is going to kill our workers.” This might sound like hysteria from even the most paranoid Unionista, but don’t be so sure. Recently, the French government summoned the CEO of France Telecom to explain 23 staff suicides.
Marchionne will have a big job in front of him. He needs to reverse generations of bad attitude. As the NY Times puts it:
“But shifting a culture toward work and closing the divide with Italy’s northern neighbors won’t be easy. Embedded for generations here — and on other parts of Europe’s often-sweltering southern rim — is a lifestyle that values flexibility for workers.”
One thing which might help Marchionne push this new work ethic is the government. In July, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pushed through a cost cutting plan to try and reign in Italy’s huge budget issues. The impending “dark times” ahead may force Italian workers’ hands in order to value the job they have. But to give you an example of the kind of challenge Marchionne has in changing Italian mind-sets, here’s an example.
During the Football World Cup, Fiat put up a big television inside the factory so workers could watch the game whilst working. Sounds, good, right? Not to everyone. Despite being paid by Fiat to watch the football, some people STILL didn’t turn up.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Marchionne has already had some success in changing Italian workers’ in getting the Pomigliano plant to accept a new contract. But Mr Niglio, who is a member of the FIOM (which, if you remember, is the only union which voted against Marchionne’s plan in Pomigliano) is unwavering in his view of Marchionne. “There (China), they work super shifts that lead to increased suicide rates,” he said, “And workers are no longer humans, but machines.” He then went on to say that Fiat was crushing their right to strike and reckoned that longer hours would diminish the quality of work (hint, hint, hint.) Mind you, not everyone feels the same way as Mr Niglio. One factory worker, Mr Nacco (who didn’t want to be identified by christian name, for fear of reprisals) says “When one person is missing, it slows down the whole group and everyone has to pick up the slack…The production of 200 cars, for example, is slowed to 160 if a person is gone. Imagine when this is multiplied across the factory.”. But I must take issue with Mr Niglio’s comments about China. Chinese worker treated like machines? If they are, nobody told Honda…