On Alitalia’s trade union lack of realism and long-term vision


I don’t know if I am the only one seeing a pattern here, but it seems that Italy, and the air and banking industries keep topping up the ranking of self-interested/head-buried-in-the sand headlines.

Combining a few of them together, and after over a year on the papers, we’ve got the Alitalia saga. Reportedly, a grotesquely malfunctioning and grossly inefficient national flag carrier.

For some bizarre reason –namely landing slots- Air France-KLM has been on and off interested in the company, but our trade union friends keep seeing leaving the ill firm in public health while the government pays the bill is the best way forward.

Maurizio Prato, the last Alitalia’s chairman to run out of patience, resigned when talks to reach agreement with unions failed. As if it wasn’t clear yet, Mr Prato had warned unions that the firm risked going bankrupt unless a deal was reached. And a deal was not reached.

It beggars believe how a group of people can be so selfish that they’d rather end up laid off after forcing their own company going bankrupt as long as they go hand-by-hand with their fellow trade unionists. Obviously, they see it more like ‘solidarity’ but Lech Walesa’s days are long gone and in a competitive environment as today’s world, some people need a massive dose of realism, and truth.

How long before the Air France-KLM consortium realises that it might be easier, cheaper and overall better to pull out, wait for Alitalia to collapse and go back to get the cherished landing slots at bargain prices? I hope not too late.

If Alitalia SpA’s trade union feel so brave as too take down the deal, it is just because they feel Alitalia is too big to fail (in Italian terms, of course) and because they are playing trapeze artist with double safety net… ultimately the government will pick up the remains and save the day.

Or will it? It seems to me that the European Commission is growing tired of the cheekiness of some of its members… Spanish rule-bending on German E.On’s purchase of Endesa, mozzarella health hazards, bank nationalisation, and the many, many like.

If SpA gets the upper hand, Alitalia will go under and the rest of Italians will pay to bail them out. I will never understand the herd behaviour. The current company employees have potentially a lot to lose (I won’t get into that), but the community, as a whole, has been pumping medicines to a sick old man for years and when a foreign doctor offers to help, the very patient shouts and insults it… perhaps it is time for the family around the bed to put things into perspective.

The future is looking a bit gloomy in the short/medium term, so some eye-opening tactics must be put in place. But with elections in Italy in a few days, who’s going to take the chance? We’ve got the politicians we deserve. Cutting the sick limb will safe the rest of the body in the long run. Is it that difficult to see?



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