At Ericsson it is a party inside and a protest outside

Genoa - “We are not thinking of firing anyone in the Research and Development Department.” These words from Federico Rigoni, CEO of Ericsson’s Italy division, to employees who protested yesterday against new lay-offs, did not convince workers’ representatives.

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di Alessandro Palmesino e Licia Casali

Genoa - “We are not thinking of firing anyone in the Research and Development Department.” These words from Federico Rigoni, CEO of Ericsson’s Italy division, to employees who protested yesterday against new lay-offs, did not convince workers’ representatives. And tensions remain high, with the confirmation of a national strike today and meetings at the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE). There were strange scenes yesterday at Erzelli, where the Swedish multinational showed clients and visitors the latest technological innovations from its R&D department, including completely autonomous robots for moving goods, applications that make remote surgeries possible, and 5G mobile technology.

The future is already here,” said Department manager Alessandro Pane as he demonstrated the 5G technology, which is a further evolution of the current mobile network. By no coincidence, important people from Vodafone and TIM were present for this presentation. But in the morning, Rigoni left the event to go outside and have an interview with workers who were conducting a boisterous demonstration and marching around the company’s headquarters with a banner that read “Is Ericsson innovating or laying off?”

Deputy Mayor Stefano Balleari, who was participating in the event on behalf of the city, met with workers alongside Rigoni. “The 600 redundancies planned for Italy do not entirely exclude Genoa,” said Massimo Della Giovanna, RSU CGIL, “the fact that Rigoni has ‘saved’ Research and Development means nothing, since no one has committed to it. There are another 150 Ericsson employees at Erzelli who are not part of that department: what will their fates be?” The group clarified that at the global level, it will shed jobs by the first half of 2018 to the tune of one billion euros: of this amount, 400 million will come from its South America - Europe area. Hence the announcement of 600 new redundancies in Italy. “Rigoni pointed out that for the moment the company will continue offering voluntary reduncancy deals with incentives,” Matteo Lupi of CISL went on, “and that in two months he will meet us to explain the paths that the company will take from that point on. But what worries us most is that the company won’t consider the possibility of an agreement with us and the government to use social safety net programmes.”

As of now, Ericsson has defended itself by claiming that it has not found a way to activate instruments like wage guarantees because of conditions that prevent the application of the current laws on these safety net procedures. And now, before starting up new redundancy procedures, he would like to “coordinate” with the unions, at least this is what Rigoni said, scheduling a meeting over how to resolve the company’s economic crisis for November. ”The problem is that Ericsson doesn’t want to start negotiations with us and the Ministry of Economic Development,” Della Giovanna pointed out, “since after all it has never done so in the past: if the company goes to the ministry, it does so on its own.” Today the workers called a national strike and a new demonstration at the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE): the unions’ goal is to succeed in obligating the government into organising a three-way meeting, a hope that will in any case always depend on the multinational’s own decisions.

Up to this point, Ericsson has always tried to avoid this sort of meeting.

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