“Europe protects its sailors’ labour”

Genova - “ What Mattioli presidency? Mario Mattioli is Manuel Grimaldi’s lieutenant, and please do convey the contentious tone of my comment.” In his own way, Vincenzo Onorato, who is the chief of Tirrenia-MOBY and the great dissident among Ital ian shipowners, was welcoming the new president of Confitarma

Genova - “The Mattioli presidency? What Mattioli presidency? Mario Mattioli is Manuel Grimaldi’s lieutenant, and please do convey the contentious tone of my comment.” In his own way, Vincenzo Onorato, who is the chief of Tirrenia-MOBY and the great dissident among Italian shipowners, was welcoming the new president of Confitarma, and making it clear that there is zero possibility for dialogue.

Why? Mattioli has already called for reintegration among Italian shipowners, going beyond the logic of commerce...
“This stuff about competition is pure disinformation from Confitarma, regime propaganda. There is and will always be a division between shipowners because of competition. That is not the point. There are other reasons, political reasons, and in my case it is the battle for Italy’s seafarers.”

Could a council of wise men help to bring you together again?
“The people who might have played this role have now left Confitarma. All the great families are out.”

70% of Italian shipowners are in Confitarma.
“That’s what they say... Tell me who has stayed. Let me be clear: I believe that because of his sophistication, intelligence, and independence, only Stefano Messina could be the right president of the confederation.”

Messina is negotiating for Gianluigi Aponte to buy a 49% stake. It turns out that Mattioli does not own Grimaldi shares.
“I don’t mean to be a short-sighted Genoa booster, but you can’t put those two people on the same level. So we are always in the same place, matters of business are one story, and matters of associations are quite another.”

The Confmare project exists in part because Aponte, a Swiss citizen who flies the Panamanian and Maltese flags, has asked to be represented in an institutional framework.
“Aponte employs more Italians than all the other Italian shipowners put together: in cruises, cargo, and offices. ‘ConfiManuel’ is an association of foreign shipowners. Shipowners who benefit from a total tax exemption under Law 30 of 1998, and in return they take non-EU sailors on board. Tell me what the difference is today between the Italian and Panamanian flags...”

So how far along is Confmare?
“It is an interesting project, which is still in process. For now there is Fedarlinea. But let’s get back to the point: does it make sense for me to be able to take non-European-Community sailors on the Livorno-Bastia line, which is 60 nautical miles and a few hours’ journey? In my opinion, it does not. In Europe, a great deal of attention has been paid to the issue of pollution, as it should have been. I think it is high time that Brussels began to find a common path [for Europe] on employment protection. So, if a company operates on European Community routes, it should employ European Community sailors. Which to me means Italians, but for everyone else, they should at least be from the European Community. In the United States they have been doing it since 1920, with the Jones Act. A rule that protects the maritime sector, and not only on board ship. Do you want to sail in Europe? The ship should be built in Europe. You shouldn’t have to go to Turkey to buy a tugboat. In Italy the shipyards have almost disappeared, apart from a few rare cases, like Fincantieri and a few other private companies which have managed to save themselves.”

Who wants to be a sailor nowadays? There is even a shortage of officers.
“This is also a shameless lie, which as always comes from the shipowner’s circles, and makes no distinction between common sailors and officers. Every day I receive countless job requests from ordinary sailors and their families. And it is true that one has to invest money to start out a career as an officer candidate, but after the training, one always finds work on board ship. On the other hand, it is the sailors, who are less well off, who are now suffering from the scourge of unemployment.”

Have you already met with other players to discuss the European Jones Act? Members of the European Parliament, other European shipowners...
“I believe that the shipowners’ associations have moved away from reality, their vision is simply out of context. It cannot be by chance that shipowners are one of the sectors that has been most affected by the crisis of representation.”

In short, you don’t even want to wish Mattioli well?
“I hope he enjoys himself. But I’m not interested in dialogue. In my opinion, since he is Grimaldi’s lieutenant, he is not worthy of this appointment.”

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