In these hours, in these days it is being decided whether Italy will be able to play a role in air transport or not. The current Alitalia will cease operations on 15 October. In its place a start-up, Ita, led by the president Alfredo Altavilla with the managing director Fabio Lazzerini. We must start from the numbers to understand why this affair inflames politics and the workers who suffer the consequences.
The number of new employees
The numbers tell us that from just over 10 thousand current Alitalia employees, it will go to Ita’s 2,800 (the real figure fluctuates between 2,750 and 2,950). Of these, three quarters will come from the old Alitalia, a quarter from the market. A consequence of the state aid regulation (and Alitalia has received many) of the European commission. But the surplus workers? The government is committed to protecting those who are not hired. The unions have asked for layoffs until 2025. Even if sticking to the redundancy fund as the only tool to protect the worker appears more and more like a march with an eye to the past. Behind that request is the idea that those jobs will be recreated in the same sector, in the same number and with equal quality. Which is difficult to predict and even at the moment unlikely.
Ita not Alitalia
Cash is a measure generally used for momentary stops, when it is thought that a company can start functioning again. Which in the case of Alitalia is really hard to believe, given that on October 15th it will in fact cease to exist. In fact, those who continue to play on the misunderstanding are amazed: Ita equals Alitalia. Which not. After all, politics has a not exactly commendable past in dealing with Alitalia. Despite those billions (11? More?) Diverted to Alitalia by the state coffers, that is, by all of us taxpayers, the success of these operations is once again measured by the number of employees.
From 22,000 to 2,000 employees
They were over 22,000 at the beginning of 2000, now they are half. Clear demonstration of how unsuccessful a strategy aimed only at conservation has been. As the umpteenth request for cash suggests. Part of the workers could be reabsorbed if Ita were to succeed in the objective of building a strong airline based on the Italian territory. (It should be taken into account that in 2019 Alitalia intercepted only 11% of the traffic to and from Italy, the share dropped to around 8% in the era of Covid and that some states considered it unnecessary to count on it, see what happened in Spain and Belgium) .
A school case
For the other employees it is clear that a path made up of training and outplacements will have to be chosen. Also for this reason, while waiting for the welfare reform and active employment policies that do not result in a rain distribution of money to the Regions, Alitalia is a test case. Its uninterrupted crisis for decades makes it a school case in the industrial, welfare and defense of workers front. This makes Ita’s challenge even more complex and complicated.
The new contract
Meanwhile, the new company has started hiring. Already more than 2,000 people, including these pilots and flight attendants, would have signed the contract. Also because, while Alitalia is being discussed, dismissal procedures have been initiated for over 1300 Air Italy employees. This prompted many workers of this other company as well as of the old Alitalia to accept the Ita offer. The offer of the start-up provides for a contract that stands at the minimum of the national one. The salary on average lower by about 20-25% compared to the previous one, for similar functions, in Alitalia. The reference point are the contracts that, due to the pandemic, have seen comparable reductions in Lufthansa and Air France. The working hours are 800 per year, like the competitors, 100 more than the old Alitalia. Obviously abolish all those facilities such as free flights for employees and special prices for family members. Certainly not easy conditions. But the bet of Ita and of the workers who are signing an individual and non-collective contract (albeit parameterized to the national one of the sector) is to find themselves in a year with a healthy company after the slimming treatment.
The litmus test
It starts with a fleet of 52 aircraft halved compared to the old Alitalia. But that the intentions of the new directors should rise to 78 already in 2022, to reach over 100 in 2025 with a turnover of 3.3 billion. The profit, again according to the new summit, should be seen in 2023. All this would not mean an automatic absorption of the redundancies. The recruitment mechanism, even if things will have to go for the best, does not foresee, as required by the European competition rules, the recall of Alitalia workers but an open recruitment. This is why, once again, Alitalia will be the litmus test for a country that must be able to facilitate the industrial strategy of a company in an important sector, and at the same time protect those employees that Ita or not Ita will see. cease the activity of Alitalia and with it fade their employment. Without feeding illusions, they must be assisted and helped by making sure that the landing place is work. Which means dignity and future.