April 13, 2015

NTV staff strike at proposed workforce cuts

Written by  Marco Chiandoni
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WORKERS at NTV, Italy's open-access high-speed operator, went on strike for the first time on April 10 as the operator pushes ahead with plans to dismiss 246 staff, or a quarter of the company's workforce, as a cost-cutting measure as it battles with its €670m debt.

According to trade unions sources, 70% of workers went on strike from 10.00 to 18.00, with only half of scheduled trains operating during this period. Unions cite the failure to reach an agreement over a proposal made in March to increase the share of solidarity in wage cuts from 8% up to 21% across the entire workforce for two years in order to avoid dismissing staff.

However, the two sides clashed when NTV's new CEO Mr Flavio Cattaneo proposed a six to seven year wage freeze in addition to the cuts. Unions rejected this arrangement which they say penalises NTV employees who on average earn 30% less than their compatriots at Italian State Railways (FS).

In addition, the unions argue that NTV's industrial development plans contradict its intentions to dismiss the 246 employees. The operator is benefitting from a €30m reduction in track access charges, while it has received white energy certificates from the Ministry for Industrial Development, which can be used to negotiate reduced energy costs in markets managed by Gestore Mercati Energetici (GME) and should equate to a further €20m in savings.

Furthermore Cattaneo recently announced plans for NTV to buy from six to 10 new trains and expand its operations in Italy.

NTV refused to comment on the strike. Negotiations with unions are continuing.

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