World Class Manufacturing (WCM) introduces new spatial and governmental issues to the problem of lean production in the automobile industry. To explore such issues, I examine the recent project implemented by Sergio Marchionne, manager of Fiat and Chrysler. In spatial terms, this project anticipates the gradual introduction of WCM to all Fiat and Chrysler-controlled plants around the world, in order to intensify the command on the conditions of production that in turn impacts upon the array of satellite industries. In governmental terms, this project has taken shape by bypassing governments, political parties and trade unions with the aim, as Marchionne himself clearly and brazenly indicated in a meeting with the president of the U.S. autoworkers union, of moving away from a “culture of rights” towards a “culture of poverty”. For the time being, it has meant trading the retention of the workforce for the redefinition of work conditions, as well as the establishment of a new wage system based around a reduction of rights and a reorganization of the conditions under which the work force operates. In the case of Italy, by withdrawing from Confindustria (the national organization of business leaders), Marchionne has freed himself from the obligation of applying the national collective contract, which has been replaced by a specific contract for the auto industry. This substitutes elected workers’ representation with representation nominated only by those unions that sign the contract, and introduces clauses of disciplinary responsibility for individual workers in the event of strike or protest action. My research concerns the response of workers to the ‘Marchionne project’, and, more specifically, to the implementation of WCM. WCM is centred on cost deployment, a methodology that aims to identify and eliminate activities that do not produce added value. Connected to this is a particular method of time calculation – Ergo-Uas – that is based upon the redefinition of ergonomic workloads that result from the new organization of workspaces and upon a computerized system of time calculation that structures the work cycle and workers’ movements exclusively to the goal of maximizing productivity. The end result is that each productive unit is transformed into a profit unit, which subsequently leads to direct or indirect competition with others. For workers, this ultimately translates into a choice between the intensification of exploitation and the loss of work. This paper analyzes the effects of WCM upon the workers of the Fiat plant in Melfi, Southern Italy, by drawing on interviews with workers, trade unionists and managers. It highlights the difficulties facing workers’ mobilization in a situation where general interests are made to coincide with the technical and productive interests of the company. Both conflict and negotiation, in fact, appear to give way to voluntary submission in exchange for investments and jobs.

Workers’ response to the implementation of WCM at the Melfi Fiat plant in Italy

COMMISSO, Giuliana
2012

Abstract

World Class Manufacturing (WCM) introduces new spatial and governmental issues to the problem of lean production in the automobile industry. To explore such issues, I examine the recent project implemented by Sergio Marchionne, manager of Fiat and Chrysler. In spatial terms, this project anticipates the gradual introduction of WCM to all Fiat and Chrysler-controlled plants around the world, in order to intensify the command on the conditions of production that in turn impacts upon the array of satellite industries. In governmental terms, this project has taken shape by bypassing governments, political parties and trade unions with the aim, as Marchionne himself clearly and brazenly indicated in a meeting with the president of the U.S. autoworkers union, of moving away from a “culture of rights” towards a “culture of poverty”. For the time being, it has meant trading the retention of the workforce for the redefinition of work conditions, as well as the establishment of a new wage system based around a reduction of rights and a reorganization of the conditions under which the work force operates. In the case of Italy, by withdrawing from Confindustria (the national organization of business leaders), Marchionne has freed himself from the obligation of applying the national collective contract, which has been replaced by a specific contract for the auto industry. This substitutes elected workers’ representation with representation nominated only by those unions that sign the contract, and introduces clauses of disciplinary responsibility for individual workers in the event of strike or protest action. My research concerns the response of workers to the ‘Marchionne project’, and, more specifically, to the implementation of WCM. WCM is centred on cost deployment, a methodology that aims to identify and eliminate activities that do not produce added value. Connected to this is a particular method of time calculation – Ergo-Uas – that is based upon the redefinition of ergonomic workloads that result from the new organization of workspaces and upon a computerized system of time calculation that structures the work cycle and workers’ movements exclusively to the goal of maximizing productivity. The end result is that each productive unit is transformed into a profit unit, which subsequently leads to direct or indirect competition with others. For workers, this ultimately translates into a choice between the intensification of exploitation and the loss of work. This paper analyzes the effects of WCM upon the workers of the Fiat plant in Melfi, Southern Italy, by drawing on interviews with workers, trade unionists and managers. It highlights the difficulties facing workers’ mobilization in a situation where general interests are made to coincide with the technical and productive interests of the company. Both conflict and negotiation, in fact, appear to give way to voluntary submission in exchange for investments and jobs.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/188602
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