Earlier this month Fabrizio Pedroni closed his electric component factory, Firem, for the summer holidays and without informing his 40 workers he began packing the contents and shipping the machinery to Poland.
When the factory workers discovered what was happening on August 13th they blocked the final shipment from leaving the factory located in Formigine near Modena. They have been staging a sit-in at the site ever since.
“We are going to do everything possible to get Pedroni to reverse his decision,” Cesare Pizzolla, local secretary of the trade union FIOM-CGIL, told The Local on Friday.
“In these very difficult economic times you cannot make a decision like that without informing anyone. We want the company to take a step backwards and keep the factory open."
Pizzolla said workers had drawn widespread support from local residents and the union was also hoping to win the backing of the council and other regional officials to support the workers.
“In 22 years as a union official I have never seen an employer who decides to dismantle his business without undertaking any procedures.”
Pedroni was not available for comment on Friday but defended his actions in an interview with Italian Radio 24.
“I had to make a choice,” Pedroni said. “Our competitors are conducting a price war. I had three choices – to close, to move or do what other businessmen have done, shoot myself in the head.”
He said informing the trade unions about his intentions was not an option.
“If I had told FIOM that I intended to move production to Poland, Pizzola and FIOM would have seized my goods like they have blocked the (last) truck that is not mine but the property of a Polish firm,” Pedroni said.
Pedroni’s controversial decision highlights the challenges facing Italy as it tries to kickstart the economy and prevent businesses from moving abroad.
Despite positive signs of improvement in the eurozone, Italy remains mired in recession with unemployment above 12 percent and an exodus of disillusioned young people seeking jobs abroad.
Antonio Mattioli, who is responsible for work contracts at CGIL’s regional office, urged the national government to intervene to prevent a repeat of what he called this act of “piracy” that was certain to bring families to their knees.