The view from within the electronics industry – individual comment pieces from people working in the technology sector.

Unadvisedly, lightly and wantonly

Two labour disputes in Europe in the semiconductor industry – NXP in Holland and Micron in Italy – are being handled very differently, notes David Manners. One is a sensible, civilised, decent approach, and the other has involved the President of Italy, a brace of local Mayors, the EC authorities and even the great Pasquale Pistorio.

Pasquale Pistorio, ex president of STMicroelectronics

Pasquale Pistorio, ex president of STMicroelectronics

Labour disputes, like marriage, are not something to be entered into ‘unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly’.

If you’re going into a labour dispute it’s best to have the reasons and the arguments worked out in advance because these things affect a wider society than just the company. This affects people, families, children, local economies.

The two current semiconductor industry labour disputes in Europe – NXP in Holland and Micron in Italy – are being handled very differently.

The Dutch have put out a clear public case for keeping pay rises to 2.25% rather than the 4.5% asked for by the unions.

The unions have responded with an equally clear public case why they should have an inflation catch-up pay rise after NXP had a good year.

Spokesmen on either side are available to expand and explain their case.

This is the sensible, civilised, decent, professional way to do things – as you would expect from the Dutch.

One can only guess at what cultural norms prevail in Idaho, but Micron’s approach to their dispute is:

1. Announce a global workforce reduction of 5% but say it’ll be 40% in Italy.
2. Put local management in to handle the dispute but don’t give them authority to make any decisions.
3. Issue no reasonable statement of justification and respond to enquiries with a ‘no comment’.
4. Choose the best year in the company’s history, when revenues have doubled to $14.2 billion, to announce the sackings

If you want to cause the deepest offence and the greatest hoo-ha that’s the way to do it.

And what a hoo-ha.

Micron’s actions have caused street protests in Rome and Catania with everyone now involved from the President of Italy, to a brace of local Mayors, the EC authorities and even the great Pasquale Pistorio.

On March 7th there will be a national day of strikes across the whole Italian microelectronics industry.

So Micron has caused mayhem. Why have they been so unprofessional?

There are three explanations:

1. Cultural: “Idahoans walk tall.” “Idahoans kick ass.” That sort of thing.
2. Micron is ashamed of what it’s doing
3. Micron knows it has made a mistake and doesn’t know how to get out of it.

Of these the cultural explanation seems kindest. Idaho is one of the less well-known American States and maybe Micron is showing us why.



  1. That WAS a dry run, actually.
    I’m just considering that when a company in such a great shape fires so many people in one country, apart the clear discrimination (Micron is strenghtening Germany and England), this means:
    1)We want to leave Italy. Clear as the sunlight.
    2)We don’t care at all of what’s going on in Italy. Can you ever imagine the mood of the remaining 609 when going to work in Micron Italy? How can you possibly work always thinking “We are the next ones.”?
    If Micron executives would have cared just a little bit of the consequences of this act, the fact that -from now on- in Italy there is no trust at all in Micron, they would never behave this way.

    Ah, by the way, Mr. Manners, the three options for me are given in a (strongly) decreasing likelihood.

  2. mr manners, once again there’s little that can be added to your exposition with regards to the situation in italy but permit me to provide some more insight info.
    back in dec 2012 micron italy had already attempted, with the same current procedure, to put out 20 employees between agrate-catania ( in the meantime a certain number of managers-dirigenti had been fired ). many regarded this act as a pure folly even if taking into account micron’s idaho origin. general opinion was : who’s unwise enough to start a row with employees, unions, create social unrest and face pubblic negative opinion for only 20 souls ? in fact after a couple of months micron stepped back and offered some form of severance pay to those who voluntarily choose to leave. to many it seemed just a ” dry run ” to what is taking place today …. throw a peeble in the pond … and see what happens….unfortunately we’re seeing the tidal waves not ripples …. with a month to go

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