Former Alitalia Employees Have Flash Mob Protest, Strip Off Uniforms

Former Alitalia Employees Have Flash Mob Protest, Strip Off Uniforms

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On October 14, 2021, Alitalia ceased operations after struggling for years. The airline was replaced by ITA Airways, Italy’s new national carrier. ITA Airways is significantly smaller than Alitalia was, and as a result a lot of former Alitalia employees are out of jobs. Well, some of those employees organized quite an interesting protest today.

Alitalia flight attendants perform flash mob protest

Dozens of former Alitalia flight attendants had a flash mob protest at Rome’s Capitoline Hill today, and it was quite a performance.

They started by taking off their overcoats to reveal their full Alitalia uniforms. They then removed their jackets, then skirts, and then high-heeled shoes, before eventually just being in undergarments (or night gowns, or something).

The barefoot ex-flight attendants stood in silence, and then shouted “we are Alitalia!” You can see much of the protest for yourself below.

Forgetting the message of the protest for a moment, I’ve gotta say, this was pretty well done.

What were former Alitalia flight attendants protesting?

ITA Airways has taken on some former Alitalia flight attendants, though most former Alitalia employees are unfortunately unemployed:

  • While ITA Airways bought the Alitalia brand, the airline is only hiring fewer than 3,000 of Alitalia’s former 10,000 employees
  • It’s reported that those who have been hired at ITA Airways are being paid significantly less than they were at Alitalia
  • The union wants the government to extend unemployment benefits for former Alitalia employees for up to five years

I mean, I see both sides here. I feel bad for former Alitalia employees, especially since the airline industry is heavily seniority based, so often employees can’t find comparable jobs at other airlines. Furthermore, it’s not the fault of the employees that the company was so poorly mismanaged for so many years.

However, one of Alitalia’s big problems was an uncompetitive labor arrangement, both in terms of the number of employees and the pay. While I feel bad for all the Alitalia employees who lost their jobs, were they expecting that the airline could just continue to lose money forever and receive endless government funding, or…?

Bottom line

Around 50 former Alitalia flight attendants had a flash mob protest in Rome today, which was quite well done. The employees were expressing frustration over losing their jobs, and also over the significantly lower pay rates at ITA Airways. I’m not sure this will accomplish all that much, but…

What do you make of this Alitalia protest?

(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

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  1. Jo Guest

    Something so sad about their exhibition. I booked Alitalia one time for a RTW trip deal some of us were in on in 2014. It was nerve racking dealing with them maybe going under at any moment. They held on for many years after though. I can say I took Alitalia, Eastern Airlines, Continental, and a few other now defunct airlines........

  2. Ben Guest

    Watched the video. They left their undergarments on. Huh?!? If they were really serious about getting attention they would have gone fully nude. This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George goes "streaking" in a body suit.

    It just doesn't have the service effect. I don't feel union members that lose their job. You can only push so hard before you fall off a cliff. I.E. Hostess Brands

  3. Aviator Guest

    We flew Alitalia to Rome from JFK 2 years ago and it was the worst flight experience. The flight non-attendants were surly, disengaged, unhelpful and displayed in spades that basically, we customers were ruining their overpaid day. I'm surprised Alitalia lasted as long as it did. What a disaster of an airline.

  4. Johhny Guest

    Alitalia lost my bag for over 90 days. That day, 124 passengers on our flight had missing bags. Ultimately, it is the management who is held accountable however, it is partially the employees who sabatoge or feel a sense of entitlement that cause an airline to collapse. Why would you start a new game with the same players if you keep coming out last?

  5. Tom Guest

    Hopefully the new ITA seleced those employees who did not participate in the numerous past strikes. I sense that many of the participants in this latest demonstration have a past track record of supporting these kind of events rather than showing up for work. A demand to be paid numerous years of severance pay reflects this past unrealistic sense of entitlement that helped bring Alitalia down.

  6. Emily Guest

    That FA in the middle is considerably taller than the rest - the only thing that I found striking in the video. One of the grandest things about Europe is the liberal attitude to protests - except when they get nasty.

  7. Sung Guest

    There is a lot of blame to go around, for unions and management. This was a failure for both to make compromise.

    That being said, 5 years of unemployment? Isn't that excessive?

  8. Andrea Guest

    I agree with Donna. It’s about time we stop simplifying things and just blame unions or workers. The aviation industry, not just in Italy, but in the world in general, has suffered shrinking salaries and worsened working conditions. Flight attendants and ground staff in particular have seen their wages lowered the most. I just wonder where all this money from increased “efficiency” goes to. Certainly not to passenger service. Now we also cut salaries …...

    I agree with Donna. It’s about time we stop simplifying things and just blame unions or workers. The aviation industry, not just in Italy, but in the world in general, has suffered shrinking salaries and worsened working conditions. Flight attendants and ground staff in particular have seen their wages lowered the most. I just wonder where all this money from increased “efficiency” goes to. Certainly not to passenger service. Now we also cut salaries … we have to be careful: profitably is sure necessary, but it shouldn’t be for the benefit of a few only.

  9. Donna Diamond

    There were a lot of reasons Alitalia failed but laying it on the employees is a cheap shot. Last week the NYT had an article about how the highly profitable and successful High Speed Rail network in Italy which was launched in 2008 was the beginning of the end of Alitalia. As someone who has lived and worked in Italy off and on over the past four decades, what once took six hours of train...

    There were a lot of reasons Alitalia failed but laying it on the employees is a cheap shot. Last week the NYT had an article about how the highly profitable and successful High Speed Rail network in Italy which was launched in 2008 was the beginning of the end of Alitalia. As someone who has lived and worked in Italy off and on over the past four decades, what once took six hours of train travel from Rome to Florence can now be accomplished in 90 minutes. Italy has geographic advantages which make it ideal for such networks. Add to that, the emergence and high saturation of low cost and ultra low cost airlines into Italy’s airports from EU countries was also a huge factor. Unions played a role when employees couldn’t be fired for right-sizing based on the changing travel environment. But aren’t all or nearly all major airline employees unionized?

    I’ve flown Alitalia over the years on all types of flights, domestically within Italy, between EU countries and internationally and found it to be reliable and a decent choice. I’m hoping the new National carrier succeeds.

    1. Donato Guest

      When was the last time it took 6 hours scheduled from Rome to Firenze? I will grant the train has gotten faster but your reference has to be at least 30+ years old.

    2. Donna Diamond

      In the ‘80s. If you read the post, that might be apparent. Have a nice day.

  10. Heather Guest

    It’s called a slip. It’s worn under dresses when you’re being “proper” like FA’s often have to be.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slip_(clothing)

    *The more you know*

    1. minervamaga New Member

      Was coming here to comment on that too! Used to help smooth out the lines from underclothes, and protect the dress or suit set from sweat, etc.

  11. LT Guest

    @Max
    What do you say about France? I was just over there for half a month, and I already experienced 2 strikes and 1 demonstration on public transportation. There were many people who were hard working and nice. But there were also people who excelled in bureaucratic and labor rules.

  12. David W Guest

    Ben why do you always have in you headers in the daily newsletter on all the articles that this item appeared first in One Mile At A Time, when it has been reported on previously in other sources or is not new news?

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      To alert people reading it on sites that automatically scrape and repost content that it was “stolen”.

    2. Robert Guest

      before eventually just being in undergarments (or night gowns, or something).

      Those are called slips...

  13. Steven E Guest

    I’m assuming that ITA would have done a recruitment drive and some former Alitalia staff would have applied for these jobs, however, it’s not a guarantee that they would hire them all - perhaps they weren’t prepared for these interviews and vision of this new carrier.

  14. D. Gremillon Guest

    Over my pay grade. Why should I care? Good luck to all. You can always deliver pizza.

  15. GB Guest

    They voted against the restructuring process submitted from the previous board and Etihad that the layoff wound had been a lot less but they were sure that the papa government would had kept all of them !! Big mistake
    So I’m not sorry for them they should blame themselves for it

    1. Andrea Guest

      Do you know Half of the management who proposed that plan is currently under investigation for fraud ? The only made the right choice rejecting that. It was not credible.

  16. PresRDC Gold

    It would really be nice if EU law allowed member states the discretion to operate their airlines as state-owned entities. There is no good reason why AZ could not have remained a state-owned entity. The amount Italian taxpayers had to contribute to keep AZ operational is small in the grand scheme of things and a fair trade off, in my opinion, to have a national symbol that operates around the world.

    1. Regis Guest

      Might be worthwile such national symbol represented the country in a positive manner. From my experience flying this airline, it was not the case with Alitalia.

    2. PresRDC Gold

      My experience differed from yours.

  17. RovinMoses Guest

    What do you think about the argument that Italian high speed rail put Alitalia out of business?

    1. Adam Simmons Guest

      It's a bad one. Any business seeing increased competition in one segment of its market has two generic strategies available:

      1 - respond with an improved offering (price, frequency, customer service); or
      2- expand into segments which will increase the company's return on investment.

      So, it's not down to rail putting Alitalia out of business but poor strategic decision-making .

  18. Paul Rodgers Guest

    Hey Max,
    Why is it always airline employees who have”unrealistic”expectations of wages, whilst airline management wages globally have soared over the last 10 years?

    1. KK13 Gold

      Because it is the USA, where no one gives a $hit about the poor and the middle class. The fallacy is even more mind boggling where rest of the poor and the middle class, who aren't affected, think what the rich are up to is correct.

    2. Max Guest

      Alitalia employees were on average significantly higher paid than their direct European competitors (LH, BA, IB, AF, KLM). They had more bonus payments, longer layovers, fully-paid early retirements,...
      On top of that, Alitalia was massively over-staffed for their relatively small fleet.
      Essentially 40+% of their former staff were on payroll without contributing a single dime to the companies business.

      Effectively Alitalia was a state-run social-benefit-organization instead of a for-profit business. Financed by hard-working...

      Alitalia employees were on average significantly higher paid than their direct European competitors (LH, BA, IB, AF, KLM). They had more bonus payments, longer layovers, fully-paid early retirements,...
      On top of that, Alitalia was massively over-staffed for their relatively small fleet.
      Essentially 40+% of their former staff were on payroll without contributing a single dime to the companies business.

      Effectively Alitalia was a state-run social-benefit-organization instead of a for-profit business. Financed by hard-working German taxpayers who pay the highest income tax in the world and then get robbed of their tax contributions as it's illegally funneld to the broke Italian government.

      Whenever a private investor or the Italian government tried to make adjustments in small steps, it resulted in massive strikes. So as the employees didn't want to make small concessions, they now get the results.

    3. Andrea Guest

      You are completely misinformed max. Their salaries were in line or lower than LH or AF for eg. Simply google it out.

  19. D3kingg Guest

    People that complain about poor service when they fly are out of touch with reality. Some people have had it rough. Brandon has put the US into a nose dive since taking office and it’s taking toll on the rest of the world. Just Wait until there aren’t enough pilots and crew and your flights are all cancelled.

    1. khatl Guest

      To say you're making a huge leap from Biden to Alitalia would be an understatement
      In that vein, I'm sure that once all flights are canceled freeways across the world are going to be full with cars, grocery stores will get no food, and tens of millions will die of starvation.

  20. Max Guest

    "Furthermore, it’s not the fault of the employees that the company was so poorly mismanaged for so many years."

    You are wrong here, Ben!

    These employees have a lot of responsibility for the downfall of Alitalia. Their unrealistic expectations of wages and working conditions as well as their willingness to strike have effectively prevented management from transforming Alitalia into a real for-profit airline.

    1. Donato Guest

      Having slept in economy seats through countless ground hold strikes, these crew members discovered you reap what you sow. Make no mistake, all these short term strikes to protest imagined injustices finally reached the endgame, the destruction of AZ.

  21. JetSetGo Guest

    Hope they find new job soon within EU. People are resilient. I have no doubt they will land on their feet in a jiffy.

  22. Icarus Guest

    Those that joined ITA did so on an entirely new contract , pay and conditions. It’s a new company, however suspect under TUPE. Hopefully they will find new jobs quickly

  23. Steve Gold

    Cool stunt but what is the point? The airline failed just find another job, that's life.

  24. Eskimo Guest

    Feminism at work.

    Men probably get to keep their job and have a reposo.

    Better ask Woody Allen.

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Max Guest

"Furthermore, it’s not the fault of the employees that the company was so poorly mismanaged for so many years." You are wrong here, Ben! These employees have a lot of responsibility for the downfall of Alitalia. Their unrealistic expectations of wages and working conditions as well as their willingness to strike have effectively prevented management from transforming Alitalia into a real for-profit airline.

6
Andrea Guest

I agree with Donna. It’s about time we stop simplifying things and just blame unions or workers. The aviation industry, not just in Italy, but in the world in general, has suffered shrinking salaries and worsened working conditions. Flight attendants and ground staff in particular have seen their wages lowered the most. I just wonder where all this money from increased “efficiency” goes to. Certainly not to passenger service. Now we also cut salaries … we have to be careful: profitably is sure necessary, but it shouldn’t be for the benefit of a few only.

1
Robert Guest

before eventually just being in undergarments (or night gowns, or something). Those are called slips...

1
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