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.
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.Tags: EC, labour disputes, Micron, NXP, Pasquale Pistorio, President of Italy, semiconductor industry