Italian trade union secures rights for shop workers in face of coronavirus


Italian trade union secures rights for shop workers in face of coronavirus

UNI Global Union’s affiliate in Italy has secured special measures for shop workers in the Northern region of Lombardy, as the area is heavily impacted by the coronavirus.

Italian trade union, Filcams, has obtained time off and flexible working hours from employers such as Zara, H&M and Carrefour, so shop workers can look after their children while many schools are shut down.

The union has also secured a commitment from companies to provide disinfectant for stores and allow hand-cleansing during the day, as well as offer gloves and face masks for workers who want to wear them. Employers have also agreed to consider paid leave for workers, in case of absence due to forced closures.

Marco Beretta, General Secretary at Filcams CIGIL Milan, said:

“As soon as the seriousness of coronavirus became apparent, we wanted to react quickly to help our members. Store workers are in public-facing jobs making them vulnerable to catching the virus. At the same, many of our members are parents, and with schools suddenly closed, we wanted to make sure they were able to look after their children in these exceptional circumstances. Our five-point list of demands has been accepted by all the companies where we have members in Lombardy.”

Claudia, a shop worker at Zara in Milan, said:

“Thanks to my union, I can take care of my daughter. We are able to have flexible shifts and time off work while the schools are closed.”

The region of Lombardy, that includes Milan, as well as Veneto, around Venice, have been a centre of infection for coronavirus with hundreds of reported cases.

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said:

“We commend this rapid response from our affiliate, Filcams, in helping to alleviate pressure on shop workers in Lombardy in the face of coronavirus. This is a great example of how strong unions can engage in good dialogue with employers to achieve immediate action to protect and benefit workers.”

Filcams Cgil succesfully made the following demands:

  • Provide all stores with adequate protective equipment. The use of masks and gloves is not mandatory but whoever wants to wear them will be allowed.
  • Provide disinfectant and allow hand cleansing during the day.
  • Grant paid leave or holidays to parents who were absent due to the closure of the schools
  • Allow flexible shifts for parents who they would like to work in spite of the closure of schools
  • Consider paid leave by the company, in case of absence due to forced closures (if not coincide with weekly rests)
  • Special sanitation of changing rooms and cash points


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