Conus textile, which is one of the major textile manufacturers in Italy, has come under fire for offering employees “a choice between two different wages, one of which they can’t accept”.
According to the company, it was “a matter of principle” to allow employees to choose between two wages.
In order to achieve this, the company has developed a “co-op” model, where employees are given two pay packets, one which they have to accept and the other which they are not.
However, employees are not paid on a regular basis.
As a result, Conus is not allowed to offer its workers a choice between these two wage packets.
As a result of this, Conuses employees are forced to take the second pay packet and work for a lower wage.
In Italy, co-operatives are a part of the economy and are able to collect tax from employees and companies.
“In order to ensure the right to work, we must have the right for employees to be able to choose the kind of work they do,” Conus’ General Director Federico Di Tommasini told La Repubblica newspaper.
In an interview with Radio Marche, Di Tammasini added that the company had to ensure that “everyday work” is carried out with a minimum of risk.
“We cannot allow employees a choice, if the company doesn’t provide them with a choice,” Di Tamasini said.
The company has also received criticism from its customers, who claim that the new system will harm Conus’s profitability and decrease its employees’ earnings.
In a letter sent to Conus shareholders, a group of customers and a union representative, the union demanded the company take immediate action to “reform its co-operative model and create a more efficient work-life balance”.
“We are not only disappointed by the decision of Conus to impose the new contract on its workers, we are also concerned by the possibility that it will lead to the loss of their jobs and reduce their wages,” the letter said.
Conus’ “cooperative” system was launched in the UK in 2015.
In an emailed statement, Conos management said that it had implemented a “new co-op system” with the aim of “promoting sustainable work for employees and increasing their wages”.
“We have introduced the new co-ops in the US, Italy and Germany, in which workers can choose between a ‘competitor’ or ‘competition’ wage.
“The new system is the result of an extensive review of our business and we are confident it will help us to reduce our costs, increase our efficiency and reduce our losses,” the statement continued.
On Monday, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents Conus employees, criticised the company for not taking the new offer seriously enough.
It said that its members were concerned that Conus was “negotiating a new contract with employees, but has not presented a viable alternative option”.
In a statement, the BRC said it “reaffirms its view that the Co-op model is not a viable way forward for our members and that it is critical that Conuses workers are offered a fair and reasonable wage to ensure they are able work for the quality they deserve.”
According to the BEC, “The Co-operative system is in direct contradiction with the Bournemouth Industrial Agreement and should be considered illegal.”
On Wednesday, ConUS announced that it would be suspending production in the European market and would focus on developing a new system in the United States.