4 Aug

from: Indymedia London

Following the path of the recent protest actions made by the staff of “Musei Civici di Venezia” (Venice´s Museum System) and “Ca´Foscari” (University of Venice), also the 53rd International Art Exhibition is closing today due to the strike of the crew assigned to many different tasks (non armed wards, museum attendants, customer service).

Those concerned are 110 “human resources”, seasonal and atypical workers (160 during the vernissage and preview days). An army of workers, forced to run after the same job each year, addressing different mutual companies (cooperatives) or employment agencies.
Part of the staff has been working in Biennale for more than ten seasons, getting expertise and holding positions of responsibility. Each year they hope to be re-employed at least at the same terms of the previous season.
This year five workers had to give up that hope, due to the fact that they were not employed, regardless of the contractual agreement signed by the labor unions CISL, UIL and the Biennale Foundation on April the 17th 2009:
“The Foundation commits herself to obtain the priority engagement of the staff that worked continuously for a minimum of one month on the occasion of the previous exhibition, whose data is registered at the Human Resources office of the Foundation.”
During the negotiation between labor union and Foundation on July the 13th 2009, Biennale even denied to own the above mentioned data and, to close any possibility to dialogue, Biennale asserted that there will be no priority list for the next year, since “the accrued seniority is not considered as a qualifying element”: So, professionalism and expertise do not count and there will be no joint agreement. That means that in the occasion of the next exhibition, we all can be laid off!
Otherwise, exactly as it happened this year, we could be forced to attend parodistic training courses: ten days of professed qualifying meetings, organized by Adecco and Biennale and funded by Formatemp.
Meetings we properly renamed “hoax courses”: they were unpaid and, most importantly, many of the participants, instead of the employment contract they craved for (from one to four months, promised by word of mouth by Adecco), got an offer to work just for the three preview days. Some of them were never employed.
On top of that, there was the chaotic management of Adecco, contained only due to the commitment of the employees, who not only cared to ensure the employment of whom had the right for it, but also solved organizational matters.
By the way, let´s just remind that the employees of the exhibition area “Arsenale” (and for one month the same happened at “Giardini”) did not receive the necessary radio transmitters, compelling them to use their own cell phones to get in touch with each other, accomplishing the task they were given. Only the heads of service were miserably refunded with 25 €.
The same “special care” emerged as the employees requested a uniform they did not want to pay for on their own…We got one white t-shirt for the whole season!!!
Another age-old matter, passing over postponed signatures on the employment contracts and other important details, regards the regular deficits of the pay-packet. Not remunerated overtime pay, not increased Sunday pay and some unpaid regular working hours are constant and annual matters of Biennale´s employees. Year after year they have to address the labor unions to obtain what is due to them.
The contract we are referring to is the labor contract of Commerce which foresees a 30% increased pay on the Sundays we work. An increase we have yet to see on our pay packets.
Considering all these facts, we all, the seasonal employees , expect the Foundation Biennale to respect the labor union-Biennale agreement of April the 17th 2009, reinstating, as a result, the five unfairly excluded workers and ask for the application of all financial terms foreseen in the above mentioned agreement, in accordance with the treatment of the staff directly employed by Biennale.
Besides we claim a stabilization process of the outsourced labor and the recognition of the accrued seniority for all the employees, a value the Foundation has to treasure and recognize.
For this purpose, we ask the Venice´s City Council, as provider of structures and funds for the Foundation, to intervene on our behalf, in order that Biennale opens out to dialogue and negotiations.
Considering the experiences we had with mutual and employment agencies in the past, we ask Biennale to undertake a journey with the final result of direct employment, guaranteeing the right to be employed every season.
Finally, we hope that the Foundation with her self-given corporate image as promoter of art and culture, will operate in coherence with her own finalities, protecting the labor law from dangerous, Dickensian influences, where the mocked workers are the symbol of a culture emptying itself.
For all these reasons, we mobilize ourselves.

Biennale´s seasonal workers
Venice, July 26th 2009

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