Italian PM To Sink Alitalia, Blames Union

By Bendygirl
Crossposted on Uniongal

I awoke this morning to the news that ANOTHER airline is biting the dust. This time, it's due to the European Union, as Alitalia was required to be privitized. But don't you LOVE how the AP spins this one?:

Barring a valid offer, Alitalia's extraordinary administrator, appointed after the airline declared bankruptcy Aug. 29, said Alitalia's clock would stop ticking Oct. 1. Italian civil aviation authorities have indicated it might be even sooner.

"I would say that we have until the end of the week," administrator Augusto Fantozzi told reporters in Rome on Monday. "Probably we will have time until next Tuesday, which means in effect that, as of today, Sept. 30th is the last day possible" of operation.

He acknowledged that the airline's chances for survival looked bleak.

"There are no prospects for a rescue in a reasonable time," Fantozzi told reporters.

The government has already made clear that the offer by the group of Italian investors led by scooter-maker Piaggio chairman Roberto Colaninno was the last best chance for Alitalia's survival.

The group had pledged to inject $1.4 billion into the bankrupt airline, sell off unprofitable assets and merge the rest with Italy's No. 2 carrier Air One. But the deal — like the offer by Air France-KLM last spring — was withdrawn amid union objections.

What union objections?

What unions?

European Union?

Was it an employee union?

Instead, we get this line, blaming the bankruptcy on union objections. Morons. There's way more to this story than what AP thinks we need to know, and it starts with that 1st bolded paragraph and the line The government has already made clear...

So, I went looking and found that Reuters had more:

Facing the prospect of liquidating a symbol of national pride, sacking its 19,000 workers and seeing its slots go to foreign airlines, Berlusconi pinned the blame for the airline's predicament squarely on the pilots and flight attendants.

"Soon the pilots and flight attendants will realize there's no alternative," he said. "I think the Italian people will be able to judge who is to blame if we don't find the solution immediately that I am still hoping for."

Berlusconi is blaming the workers and their union for the failed attempt by the Italian investors to rescue the airline, but still no info on what the objections were to the deal, only that Berlusconi blames the pilots and flight attendants. Does that mean he doesn't blame the ramp agents, mechanics and other unionized Alitalia employees? Does this mean he'd rather see the airline dissolved and all these people out of work? Does this mean the union wants all it's employees out of work? What am I missing?

That's when I read the BBC where they noted last month that the airline deal for an Italian investor would work only if the airline were split up and the union agreed to toss their membership into the wind and accept massive job cuts and the BBC went on to also say that:

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made Alitalia's continued ownership by Italian interests a precondition of any rescue deal.

However, experts have said the airline - of which the government owns 49% - can only survive in the future as part of some European alliance.

The condition of the sale that Berlusconi set, Italian ownership, is what sinks this deal, not the union. Even the "experts" have told them this.

With the government owning 49% and demanding Italian ownersip, it's impossible for the big airlines like Lufthansa or Air France to purchase the Alitalia, they are not Italian companies. These other airlines have expressed interest in a split up version, but that would mean that Berlusconi would have to give up his Italian only ownership demand and instead, think about the employees of Alitalia instead. The union has noted (in the Reuters piece) that they'd accept outside ownership. I'm guessing because the company would be less likely to be run into the ground by Berlusconi's demands.

You know, if I'd just stopped and read that AP article, I probably would be thinking right now that unions are bad and I'd be confused, assuming that even the European Union is bad. Good thing I hunted around for more information and discovered that the intransigence of Berlusconi is really adding fuel to the fire of Alitalia. I hope he doesn't escape responsibility for this shit

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have the misfortune to have a return part of my Alitalia ticket from Europe to Brazil hanging on the thread (I am due to leave in 2 days and the newest deadline is tomorrow).

So, I have been forced to read ALL The news about the Alitalia and I have to say that you got it wrong. It is not your fault, of course - there are A LOT of news (and blog) sources and you really need to read them all to be able to get a clearer picture. But yes, labor unions ARE to blame that the last (past week's) effort to get investors failed. I'm not saying that the offer was great. It was the ONLY offer. Invest 1 Billion EUR (1,4 Bil. USD), sack 3200 employees, sell off the unprofitable parts and merge with AirOne. UNIONS (6 out of 9) didn't want to sign that, mainly on account that "too many people will lose jobs"! 3 unions that DID want to sign are quite BIG, but the pilot and crew union refused. Unions are NOW starting to realize that it wasn't a bluff: it was the only viable solution. But it's probably too late.

This time, I'm on the employer's side. Alitalia unions have been notorious for what they got when you compare it to other (Air France, Lufthansa). Which is OK when the company is earning money. But this one was NOT. So they were cutting the branck they were sitting on.

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