Genoa - Yesterday, there were around 100 workers picketing the port of Genoa’s Ponte Etiopia Gate, which is the focal point of the 14 picket lines organized by the FILT-CGIL, FIT, CISL, and Uiltrasporti transport syndicates, during this 48-hour logistics workers strike that follows a breakdown in contract renewal negotiations (on October 10, even after some fifty meetings). The workers have been without a contract for 22 months. CGIL reported 10 picket lines at the gates of port terminals at La Spezia, Savona, Cagliari, and at the dry docks of Parma, Rivalta Scrivia, Bari, Novara, Vercelli, Pontenure and at TNT’s storage facility in Piacenza; this, in addition to workers assembled in front of Rome’s Prefecture, and Bologna’s headquarters of the Association of Cooperatives. There has been little disruption to freight flow, although some ships have been routed to Genoa, road traffic on the Aurelia at Savona has been slow, and La Spezia also experienced slowdowns. Giulia Guida, secretary of the FILT CGIL trade union, referred to “close to 100% strike participation”, while haulage association Conftrasporto, led by Paolo Uggè, dismissed that assertion as “pure fantasy”, and pointed to Italy’s highways website as proof of the lack of major anomalies. But arguing about headcounts will not help in coming to terms with the strike, indicative of the fragmentation of the logistics sector, where 24 sector associations have been negotiating over work contracts.
Although the dispute actually concerns the road transport sector, the unions have launched the strike throughout the whole transport sector, to highlight their contention that there should be just one work contract, and that it must be safeguarded; on the other hand, employer associations involved in the dispute (Confindustria Anita, Confcommercio, Conftrasporto, Confartigianato Trasporti) are instead seeking to isolate road haulage from the contract that applies to the rest of the logistics supply chain, as Anita president, Thomas Baumgartner, reported yesterday to the Secolo XIX-the MediTelegraph. Confetra (the association which brings together all logistics associations), Fedit (the courier association), and even the association of freight forwarders (through an internal memo issued by Spediporto Genoa) have, on the other hand, responded by expressing their willingness to reach an agreement, even if it would involve overturning the objections to proposals on the table, which were introduced by Anita and Conftrasporto, with the “second yearly-bonus” being their main bone of contention, by maintaining the extra pay unchanged but distributing it in the form of a performance bonus, to try to limit the high cost of labour that is hurting Italian companies.The employer’s side of the debate has not maintained its unity, as shown by the change in position of Anita’s counselor, Marcello Pigliacelli, who expressed disagreement with Baumgartner’s method; or from the great Genoa-based entrepreneur Spinelli, through the voice of his subsidiary Saimare president, Mino Giachino, who complained about Genoa-bound ships being rerouted to Marseilles, and underscored the government’s absence throughout the dispute: “The strike, that has damaged Genoa most of all, could have been avoided if only the minister had called on the parties to negotiate.” The demonstrations have piqued the “media’s attention for several days,” if not that of the government,” said Maurizio Diamante, National FIT CISL Logistics Coordinator, adding: “not a bad result, considering the fragmentation of the sector.” In fact, strikers are mostly workers of the larger freight carriers: those employed by medium, small, and very small businesses have not stopped working; it will similarly be difficult for the employer federations to block the entire haulage sector tied to the establishment of dry-docks, which have been historically fertile ground for grassroots unions, while outside that sphere operate the many contractor co-ops that are being increasingly pressured by the big players in freight delivery, who, in turn, are hard put to respond to demands resulting from the unfettered spread of e-commerce. But that’s another story.