The fight at Trieste is not over and we keep on standing in full solidarity with the hundreds of Wärtsilä workers who are mobilising all their efforts to safeguard their jobs and site.
Following Wärtsilä management’s announcement in mid-July to stop all production activities overnight at its Trieste plant and to transfer its workers to Finland, hundreds of workers and thousands of impacted families took to the streets in protest. The news came as a shock for both workers and the local public authorities, as the company has been denying all rumours of production transfer for months.
The announcement was made in breach of workers’ information and consultation rights as well as the region’s industrial strategy. It puts 700 direct and indirect jobs at stake, in a region where the shipbuilding industry plays an important role and relies greatly on the engines produced by Wärtsilä.
Social dialogue, including consultation about the relocation plan, was denied to both the Italian and the European worker representatives. The Italian trade unions FIM-CISL, FIOM-CGIL and UILM-UIL filed a complaint before the Court of Trieste, whose ruling came back clear: Wärtsilä is condemned for the breach of trade unions’ rights and must cancel its dismissal procedure until a proper information and consultation process has taken place. The Finnish-based multinational company Wärtsilä must revise its relocation plan and respect workers’ rights.
At the time of writing, the Wärtsilä European Works Council has yet to be convened for an extraordinary meeting aimed at launching the same information-consultation procedure at European level.
The massive mobilisations of Wärtsilä workers, including 15,000 demonstrators in the streets of Trieste in early September, and the unitary FIM-CISL, FIOM-CGIL and UILM-UIL’s actions delivered another strong outcome: the amendment of the Italian legislation on relocation.
The new law extends the time for dialogue - from 30 to 120 days - and the search for solutions with trade unions to safeguard jobs and business activities. Since the start of the conflict, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development has been supportive of trade unions’ demands and has been very critical of the lack of cooperation shown by Wärtsilä management.
The Italian trade unions urge the competent Italian ministers to start talks with companies and groups to take over the management of the Trieste plant from Wärtsilä, if required, in order to secure the continuity of production on the site.
Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe, said:
‘’IndustriAll Europe congratulates the Italian workers and their trade unions for their wins. The fight at Trieste is not over and we keep on standing in full solidarity with the hundreds of Wärtsilä workers who are mobilising all their efforts to safeguard their jobs and site.
"But how many more of these cases do we need until policymakers take their responsibility and act to make responsible business conduct a reality? What has happened in Trieste must not stay in Trieste. Lessons must be learnt: you do not decide to relocate production activities which are strategic for an entire region and put hundreds of families at risk of poverty at the most uncertain of times of our societies without proper anticipation and dialogue with trade unions!
"IndustriAll Europe will continue to oppose undemocratic management, de-industrialisation of entire regions and violation of national and European workers’ rights. Nothing about us without us!’’
IndustriAll Europe demands EU policymakers to adopt legally binding initiatives aimed at securing that companies operating in Europe are:
- Transparent about their business plans, including cross-border restructuring, as well as their compliance with workers’ rights and environmental standards all along their supply chain;
- Democratic and inform, consult and bargain fairly with trade unions at local, national and European levels;
- Accountable for their impact on people and the planet, ensuring an immediate remedy to any negative consequence that their activities might have on workers, society and the environment.
With the current discussions across the EU institutions about an ambitious European Directive on due diligence, and significant improvement of the European Works Council Directive, industriAll Europe insists on the industry workers’ voice being heard and political action to be taken swiftly.
IndustriAll Europe's demands for mandatory responsible business conduct: EN DE FR
IndustriAll Europe’s preliminary analysis of the European Commission’s Proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence: EN