I’ll tell you about the forces, challenges and problems of large-scale distribution

I'll tell you about the forces, challenges and problems of large-scale distribution

The point on large-scale distribution (GDO) in the in-depth analysis by Mario Sassi

Walter Veltroni indicates in the post-covid celebrations, among the silent heroes, the cashiers of supermarkets . This is not new but, in my opinion, the risk is that rhetoric will be replicated as an end in itself in the absence of a strategy (including trade union) on the work and commitment of those who found themselves withstanding the initial impact in the lockdown and therefore on the economic and professional value of the sales staff in the large-scale retail trade.

The period we hope to have put behind us has shown us two aspects of the problem. The first concerns the ability of large-scale retail companies to withstand the brunt of the pandemic. They managed the onslaught of old and new customers worried about building stocks that were often useless, they did not find their shelves empty and therefore they were able to regulate logistical flows even in difficult times and they were able to face tensions and risks for public order even out of the store. And last but not least, they were able to count on an effective company organization despite unexpected costs induced by extravagant decisions outside the sector, an increase in staff morbidity, tensions with customers and shortcomings in the external context.

If there had not been this rigid but clear approach in that context, we would have experienced very different situations and tensions. Especially in socially critical areas.

The question for those who work in the sector, however, is not whether the orders were real heroines or whether they did so "in order not to lose their jobs" as Veltroni claims. The question is, if anything, what the lockdown has taught us about working in large distribution. And what we can and must do to move on. Otherwise it is just rhetoric that risks being as annoying as it is useless.

What awaits the large-scale distribution sector.

On the table, in the coming months, there are four national contracts expired for the same sector. Not to mention the pirate contracts. The last round was characterized by a downward chase with the sole purpose of reducing (or not increasing) the cost of labor. If we add to this the decline in company bargaining, the increase in involuntary part-time and fixed-term contracts, the circle is closed.

If we were to stop here in the analysis we would have to deduce that the sales staff, the so-called "infantry", will have to continue to cost as little as possible and therefore that its recognition for the signs of the large-scale retail trade is not at all central. A pat on the back, and off you go. It can't be like that. At least for the most innovative and performing companies.

Many companies, internally, have sought innovative answers on their human resources, but national contracts were built in another era and are, at the same time, the cause and effect of that organizational Taylorism that assigns simple and repetitive tasks in a precise time context.

For the national contract, the customer and his needs, the commitment of the individuals, the result of the point of sale do not matter. One is worth one. Of course there is funded training but the substance does not change.

It is clear that a structural intervention on the tax wedge would be needed but, with this type of national contracts, the overall cast remains, the high cost of labor and the need to keep it under control, under penalty of the economic equilibrium of the various stores and therefore of the sector. . Above all in anticipation of possible automatic increases (although tax exempt) defined and designed by the Government to favor the signing of expired CCNLs.

However, the lockdown confirmed that not all workers are the same. That the result can also be achieved by developing professionalism, differentiating and recognizing individual contributions, training people and involving them in company objectives, also focusing on variable remuneration rates. That is why the whole tool should be radically reoriented. Expiring contracts can be answered by denying the evidence or looking to the future with foresight. But it is only by intervening on this point that the somewhat instrumental rhetoric of the “long live the cashier” can find its concrete evolution. In other words, the CCNL tool should be adapted to continue that process of changing professional figures in the points of sale.

A difficult objective to achieve if the useless competition between the holders of the various CCNL continues. In the years that characterized the previous renewal, the sector was looking for and confirming specific identities and real representativeness. However, everything has changed since then.

Today the large-scale retail trade needs unity and vision. To create useful conditions for reorganisations / concentrations and for the evolution of the sector itself, to experiment with the necessary changes, to implement training aimed at changing sales personnel and to build useful active policies in the sector that accompany these changes. And finally, it needs workers' representatives who can grow in dialogue with companies, change themselves by participating in the reorientation of the entire sector.

It is obvious that the trade union must also concretely accept this challenge. Locking oneself up in their respective acronyms or signs or following their associations in an endless competition with presumed opponents who no longer exist in this field is of little use.

It would be necessary to think about the possible points of convergence by sharing what makes sense and leaving the specificities of association, territory or brand within balances that must be found right within a unitary national contract that should be redesigned together. Especially thinking of welfare but also of the economic resources for the respective social partners made available by the national contracts themselves.

For these reasons, I prefer to suggest an assumption of responsibility that, starting from the single brands and the workers involved, reaches the respective associations and that gives life to an innovative national contract that knows how to concretely recognize the value of work and the company.

Article published on mariosassi.it

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/economia/vi-racconto-forze-sfide-e-problemi-della-grande-distribuzione/ on Sat, 19 Sep 2020 13:49:21 +0000.