Mario Draghi: “We’ll take care of the Whirlpool workers”

FABIO FRUSTACIANSA

Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, during a ceremony for players and staff of Italy’s national football team at Palazzo Chigi in Rome on July 12, 2021. Italy won the final of UEFA EURO 2020. ANSA/FABIO FRUSTACI

When the three local trade union secretaries meet Mario Draghi, a few hours have passed since the announcement of the start of the dismissal procedure for the 340 workers of the Whirlpool plant in Naples. The protest, mounted during an excited assembly inside the factory, is a few hundred meters from the Santa Maria Capua Vetere prison that the premier has just finished visiting. The workers arrived by car with flags and in anger. They want answers. And Draghi gives them. Without guaranteeing a result because – he says as reported by the participants in the meeting – “it is not my style”. But it is a nuance in the face of the peremptory judgment that he gives immediately after: Whirlpool’s behavior is unacceptable, a disgrace towards the government and workers. Already in the evening, back in Rome, he will contact the American board to convince him to withdraw the layoffs. Alternatively, it will guarantee a high-level reindustrialization and in any case it will not leave the workers alone.

Rosario Rappa, general secretary of the Fiom of Naples, is one of the three participants in the face to face with Draghi. He is the one to speak immediately afterwards. “To the premier – says a Huffpost – we said that for us the most suitable and simplest solution is to convince Whirlpool to resume production ”. The premier will update the Minister of Economic Development Giancarlo Giorgetti and will try to come up with a solution, but the protest of the workers and the meeting with their representatives is the first image of the need to take measures with a piece of the real country that in a the week saw the overturning of 152 dismissals at Gianetti Ruote in Ceriano Laghetto, 422 at Gkn in Campi Bisenzio and 340 at Whirpool. Different stories, but united by a series of issues that converge and have exploded. Even within the government. It is the difficulty of governing the transition from the layoffs to an ordinary phase, but also a long season of failed reindustrialisations.

Draghi and the workers, the trade unions that have changed strategy and register (“It’s a war”, “the jackals are coming”, say the Fiom secretaries) after months of substantial pacification, the common notice signed between the Government and the social partners rejected after less than a week, the discontent, always of the unions, for the silence of Confindustria. They are all images of a messy transition. It is not just the already delicate issue of jobs burned. The fibrillation within the executive is a sign of a much larger and more delicate issue. Just read a passage from the tweet published by the deputy secretary of the Democratic Party Peppe Provenzano after Whirlpool decided to refuse the government’s proposal to take advantage of 13 additional weeks of layoffs in exchange for a commitment not to lay off: “You cannot accept dismissals when they are shock absorbers planned to accompany the relaunch of the site “. And so far everyone agrees, given that shortly before Giorgetti had defined the company’s attitude as “unreasonable”. The 5 stars, which have the Deputy Minister Alessandra Todde in the ministry, among other things delegated to disputes, are even more aggressive. “I don’t give up and they don’t give up the workers”, says Todde who claims to have reminded the multinational that “the state and the institutions have taken charge in recent months of working on an alternative industrial project”. However, Provenzano adds: “But Giorgetti offers an industrial solution”.

The need for greater intervention by the Mise is also claimed by the trade unions. “IS The time has come for the Ministry of Economic Development to demonstrate that it has the will and the ability to further influence the disputes in our country “, says Gianluca Ficco, Uilm national secretary and head of the household appliances sector, after the videoconference meeting leaves on the ground the start of the dismissal procedure. The unpublished data, however, is the Democratic Party that comes out in the open, compact in asking for a solution to guarantee production continuity in Naples. The theme is even broader and more critical if we look at the crisis tables that have been active in the ministry for some time. It is that of industrial policy, of how to do it, of how to restart, of how to frame the recovery of the country calibrated on Recovery with a system that is in trouble, caged between crises generated by fierce foreign funds, but also by relaunch plans that are still substantially still like that of the former Ilva, still from crisis – to consider another perspective – that have been dragging on for years, like Whirlpool, which have nothing to do with Covid and which during the pandemic were frozen, but do not advance towards a positive solution.

The figure of the complexity of the great industrial crisis is given by the CEO of Whirlpool Italia shortly before announcing the layoffs. “This is a table that has been open for about 26 months,” says Luigi La Morgia to the unions connected by videoconference. The 26 months have passed since the company announced its intention to close. It is another element of a story that cannot be simplified with the scheme of the bad foreign multinational. The choice not to take advantage of new weeks of layoffs, among other things paid by the State, damages the workers and suffocates the space available to the Government to set up a plan b, but more than two years without an alternative solution tell of countless failed attempts. That of the 5 stars, with Luigi Di Maio as Minister of Economic Development: the industrial plan of 250 million, the result of an agreement signed in September 2018, was trashed by the company after less than seven months. But even the most recent ones: Smeg, Prs, Seri, Cmd are all names of potential white knights who have only managed to get close to the reindustrialisation of the Whirlpool plant in Naples.

Now it is evident that it was not always the fault of the governments that followed one another, sometimes even the unions got in the way not trusting possible new investors. Whirlpool has again rejected a signed commitment and has now rejected a no-cost solution. Not even the funds have honored their commitment to Italy in the best possible way, much less the big foreigners (the case of the Chinese of the Wanbao group at the Acc di Mel, in the Belluno area, is emblematic). And it is also evident that it cannot be ignored how relocation, which holds a very high labor cost in Italy in its belly, is a phenomenon that has existed for some time and that has escaped the governments of the country in the last twenty years. But the fragmentation of responsibilities does not mitigate the blow, if anything it highlights the fragility of the system in giving itself sustainable rules. At least the idea of ​​a future. Even first ensure that everything does not turn into a jungle, with workers fired with a message on Whatsapp.


Source: Huffington Post Italy Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.it.

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