In an exemplary show of solidarity, all workers at the Dalmine factory of the Tenaris group in Italy held a one-day strike and a rally in front of plant's the three main entrances on 10 March in protest against 406 redundancies announced by the company.
The strike started at 6 a.m. and continued till the end of the day. It was organized by the IndustriALL Global Union affiliates Fim-Cisl, Fiom-Cgil and Uilm-Uil to oppose plans announced on 25 February to cut 406 jobs, including 120 apprentices, with whom the company did not prolong the contracts. The factory currently employs around 1850 workers.
“All the workers at Tenaris understood and shared the reasons for the strike," commented Eugenio Borella, provincial general secretary of Fiom-Cgil, "For our part, we hope that negotiations can now begin on all outstanding issues, starting with the confirmation of apprentices, but also, if the situation persists, on production difficulties in light of the proposal about use of a solidarity contract.”
The redundancies represent an extremely heavy social cost for the workers and their families, as well as the local community. According to the unions, the company's reasons for the dismissals, in particular the fallen oil prices and a lower demand on pipes for the oil industry, do not justify the reduction of the production capacity at Tenaris Group in Italy or other parts of the world.
The unions' alternative proposal to the company is to use solidarity contracts, which were legally introduced in Italy in 1984. Since then solidarity contracts serve as an indispensable tool for maintaining employment in the face of economic crisis through decrease of working hours while maintaining the level of employment.
"With our mobilization we ask that the company change their position about apprentices and rapidly start the negotiations," says Emanuele Fantini, Fim-Cisl Bergamo. "Otherwise the dispute will only escalate. After removal of the redundancies, we ask for a discussion on the elements that brought about this crisis. We are aware that there are difficulties, but we want to be involved in the process of how to tackle them."
Worried about their colleagues' future at Dalmine and potential repercussions for themselves, workers from other factories of the Group at Costa Volpino, Arcore (Monza and Brianza) and Piombino (Livorno) also participated in the action. At Costa Volpino, a two-hour strike has been organized at the end of every shift.
"It was a very important step to be able to resume a dialogue with the leaders of Tenaris, said Emilio Lollius from union, Uilm Bergamo. "The workers, jointly, gave their signal. Now we need to sit down and discuss the future starting with a basic precondition: the apprentices are the heritage of the company that should be protected."
The unions say management has been surprised by the level of mobilization and the unions expect an invitation for a discussion on how to tackle the drop in orders and activities without structural reductions of employment. If the discussion does not start, further mobilizations will follow.