Alitalia On Strike: What Happened Behind The Scene?
2000 pilots and crew members went on strike at Alitalia. Although representatives of the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents pilots from 36 countries, travelled to Rome to give their support to the Italian pilots’ union Anpac, this was merely to convince Alitalia “that a productive, positive relationship with a professional pilots union is the most effective way to succeed in today’s marketplace.”
When those 2,000 pilots and cabin crew went on strike for eight hours on 20 March. This coincided with a work stoppage by all employees at the Meridiana Airline on the island of Sardinia and an eight-hour strike by air traffic controllers at the airline safety agency ENAV in opposition to privatisation. Around 300 flights were cancelled at Italian airports and all airline travel was subject to major delays. A further 24-hour strike has been announced for 7 May.
The immediate reason for the strike was the failure of contract talks between management and several unions (Uitrasporti, Anpav, Anpac). However, this takes place in the context of a bitter global cost-cutting drive at the expense of airline workers.
While the airlines fight out this conflict globally, with the world’s largest firms assuming control of smaller competitors, the unions pursue a purely national strategy, generally ending up supporting the cost-cutting programmes against their own members in the interest of competitiveness. Alitalia exemplifies this process.