Friday, 18 February 2011
Tychy, Poland - Sabotage during night shift at Fiat factory, 300 cars damaged
Fiat's factory at Tychy in Poland which produces the Fiat 500 and Panda was hit by a wave of sabotage last Thursday during the night shift with up to 200 finished cars reportedly being damaged by dents and scratches.
Although Fiat Poland has quickly blacked out any official information the incident the national media has anonymously quoted workers and internal correspondence (emails and photos) with some news outlets saying the damage inflicted could have reached 300 cars. Most of the damage was believed to have been caused by objects such as screwdrivers or knives.
The Tychy factory, which produces around 2,300 cars per day, is regularly held up by Fiat as a model facility and regularly used by management as a stick to beat the Italian unions with as it produces more cars per year than all of the Italian factories combined. As well as the 500 and Panda the plant, located in an area of high unemployment in the south of the country, produces the Abarth 500 (for final assembly at Mirafiori) and the current-generation Ford Ka which is based on the 500's platform and mechanicals.
Production of the next-generation Panda is being switched away from the factory to the Alfa Romeo facility at Pomigliano d'Arco near Naples in Italy but Tychy, which is operating at capacity thanks to the runaway success of the 500, is starting to build the new Lancia Ypsilon which will make its world debut next month at the Geneva Motor Show. The Ypsilon is being shifted to Tychy from the Termini Imerese factory in Sicily which will close down towards the end of this year.
However while the huge plant is regarded as a model example within Fiat management circles it has a history of unrest and dissatisfaction from the workforce who are paid less than their Italian colleagues, with the Polish media regularly quoting staff as complaining of exploitation. Yesterday the Pracownik news website quoted a Tychy worker in an anonymous interview discussing the conditions: "In general, they are bad. The atmosphere is very tense. Salaries are different, depending on the job and other factors. I have worked there in a skilled job over fifteen years and I get less than 500 euros a month, net. Many people get 350, 400 euros. I know that the people who do this work in Italy receive four or even five times more salary. Fiat in Tychy is very productive, with a very high efficiency. They told workers for many years: if you are efficient and the factory works well, you will get a higher salary. The harder people worked, the more the bosses demanded, but the workers rarely got anything. There is a bonus system, but over the last years, the bonuses are smaller, they are paid in installments and people never get the full amount."
The anonymous worker continued to tell Pracownik that discontent at Tychy was mostly kept below the surface: "In the last year or two some workers formed secret organizations. There are, to my knowledge, at least two: the Underground Resistance and the Secret Commission of Solidarity - also known as Underground Solidarity. There is also a famous blog started by one worker; now we know that more than a dozen people write there, so it is also sort of an organization. The company wants to know who this blogger is and offered even a 2,500 euro reward to anybody who would identify him."
More chillingly another anonymous open letter last year to Fiat workers at Pomigliano d'Arco who were engaged in their own battle with Fiat management at the time, ended: "For us, there is nothing left to do in Tychy but go down fighting instead of on our knees. We will encourage our colleagues to acts of resistance and sabotage against the company which sucked us dry for years and now spits us out."
The incident last Thursday night is the biggest act of sabotage in the history of the plant, which has also built models such as the Fiat 126, Cinqecento and Seicento. However the Polish media has also run reports from workers who disagreed with the direct action that was taken.
Posted by sysiphus at 11:17