The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Marchionne’s Slaveholder Mentality

Nov 26, 2012

The Court of Appeals in Rome upheld the appeal by the metalworkers union FIOM, which claimed that Fiat discriminated against its members in layoffs. In response Fiat’s head announced the company would lay off one worker for every one it had to rehire.

Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat, the Italian auto company, was only pursuing its “slavemaster” logic. In 2010, at the factory near Naples in the south of Italy, he broke union contracts, promising more jobs in exchange. Instead Fiat started to lay off workers. Then he set up a U.S.-style “new company” that rehired only those workers who signed an agreement accepting all the new, more repressive rules. When presented to the unions, this agreement was not accepted by FIOM.

Two years later, out of the 5,500 workers laid off, 2,500 weren’t re-hired by the “new company,” including all FIOM members. The discrimination against the metalworkers of FIOM was so obvious, the court ruled for them. The court ordered the immediate rehiring of 19 FIOM workers, while waiting on lawsuits from the other 125 workers. In reply, Marchionne scornfully said he couldn’t be forced to take on one more worker. So Fiat laid off 19 new hires!

Obviously, Fiat management plays on divisions, trying to set those hired against those who weren’t. For Marchionne, the workers are only a manpower reserve, which he can draw upon according to his needs, but for whom he recognizes no rights.