Leftwing union defeats Fiat in landmark ruling

FIOM gets right to representation despite not signing agreement

Leftwing union defeats Fiat in landmark ruling

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, July 3 - The left-wing FIOM trade union has won a battle with Fiat over worker representation at the carmaker in a landmark ruling at Italy's Constitutional Court. The FIOM, the metalworkers' arm of Italy's biggest trade-union Confederation, the CGIL, petitioned against being excluded from the company union representation bodies (RSAs) at Fiat's plants for not having signed the company's labour agreements. Fiat said it could do this on the basis of article 19 of the 1970 workers statute. But the Constitutional Court said in a statement that it considered illegitimate the part of the article that said unions who did not sign the collective agreements applied at a companies' plants could be excluded from RSAs, even if they had taken part in the negotiations. "The Constitution has returned to our factories," said FIOM Secretary General Maurizio Landini. "It's a victory for all workers. "There are no more alibis now. The government should immediately call talks with Fiat and all the trade unions on guaranteeing jobs and an industrial future (for Italy). "And now parliament should approve a law on (union) representation". The FIOM has been engaged in a series of bitter fights with Fiat in recent years over the carmaker's efforts to introduce new, more flexible working contracts and practices. Fiat says these are necessary to boost the productivity and competitiveness of its Italian factories, but FIOM says they infringe of worker and union rights. The union successfully petitioned last year for Fiat to hire 19 of its members at its Pomigliano d'Arco factory near Naples. The carmaker did not take on any of its former FIOM workers when it set up a special subsidiary to run the Pomigliano plant in 2010 after a dispute with the union over the flexible labour practices it wanted to implement there. In February Fiat told 18 of the workers to stay at home, saying they would still receive their salaries - the other member of the 19 was on leave of absence anyway for political activities. This prompted FIOM to report the issue to prosecutors, who have opened the probe in the case for alleged discrimination. "This initiative is the umpteenth expression of an unprecedented judiciary offensive directed by FIOM against Fiat, for more than two years, by filing, in connection with the sole issue of the enjoyment of the 'union rights', 62 lawsuits," the carmaker said in a statement at the time. In January Fiat announced that the special subsidiary set up to run Pomigliano, where Fiat builds the newest version of its Panda sub-compact, would be wound down and that control of the factory would return to the mother company.

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