Italian Apple Employees Strike Before iPhone 4S Launch

The iPhone 4S arrives in Italy today – along with another 22 countries – and the Italians are so into it, they are apparently standing in orderly lines to get it.*

Outside the Roma Est store in the country’s capital, however, Apple employees went on strike.


The unidentified leader in this video from blog iSpazio says they have decide to “strike different” – as their banner and T-shirts say – because they have asked store management to meet a series of demands, but management met with them once and then refused to keep talking.  (The rest of the banner slogan is catchy, but lost in translation – “Noi della mela siamo andati alla frutta” – loosely translates to “Apple employees have had it.”)

Checking out the union page referenced on their T-shirts, demands include asking for more sales staff due to high store traffic, a monthly fixed bonus scheme for all of €200 (about $280) since employee duties are often mixed and limiting video surveillance to safety and loss prevention instead of tracking employees.

“We’re out here because we want to open up dialogue,” the group leader says. “[Apple] is a company that can provide these benefits and better the work place.”

Via iSpazio

*NB. I say this as an Italian citizen. Line jumping and disorderly crowding comes with the territory.


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  • Tfr2002

    This is pathetic.

  • Eddy Lopez

    Interesting and good for them. Reminds me that there was talk of unionizing Apple store employees here in the states earlier this year but then that mysteriously all went away and now you have rumors of Apple Corp employees impersonating police to get an iPhone prototype back. 

  • prof_peabody

    I’m all for unions, but their demands sound pretty unreasonable (and self-serving to boot).  

  • Carlos Novo

    I lived in Italy for four years. I can tell you that, at least from what I saw and was told by the locals, that working conditions and compensation was worse than dreadful when working out on the economy. However, union workers have it made. Their wages are above average and they enjoy benefits most Americans will never have. They get up to 1 year off for maternity leave, without the risk of losing their job. They get more holidays off than there are holidays in the US. 

    When it comes to contract negotiations, their demands are usually outrageous and their work ethic is the worst I have ever seen. Naturally, as with anything else, this doesn’t apply to everyone. However, in most cases it does.

  • Morgan

    Unions outlived any ethical value generations ago.  Now they are nothing more than Socialism holding business/organizations hostage.

    Unions are detrimental in so many ways it is impossible to list them all in a short posting.  Many accuse the corporate owners, leaders and investors of being Greedy.  In reality – based on the true definition of greed – it is the Union laborer and the Union organizations that are afflicted with Greed.

    For those who need a refresher – Greed is an excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it for one’s self. Greed is inappropriate expectation. As a secular psychological concept, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves.

  • Chris

    This is where I bought my iPhone 4! ;) I had to walk a looong way outside the City though, that store is very far from Rome itself

  • Angus

    Good for them!  Apple can more than afford to give their employees these reasonable requests.

  • Chad Stoner

    It went away because it won’t happen…and please enough of the old employee impersonating an officer…so last week…anything new to offer Eddie?

  • Rouen McEarn

    Of course, greed is never demonstrated by those megalomaniacal and narcissistic managers who care little for whom they step over or backstab in order to clamber their way to the top.  They’re not greedy, just hungry…  Hmmm.

    Your “true definition of greed”, which looks like it has been lifted straight from Wikipedia, is so poorly interpreted it’s comical.  I suppose you think that the current state of financial affairs across the world has also been caused by greedy working class Union types too?

    I am not saying that Unions have always been completely righteous and selfless, but without Unions, working class folk would be much worse off.  You need to educate yourself and read some history, instead of blindly quoting text from wikipedia.  Then again, you are free to create your own ‘reality’ if this is what you prefer.

  • Thomas Holzknecht

    no comment

  • L.

    Well…say goodbye to all Italian Apple stores…clearly these employees do not realize with whom they are dealing with!

  • CharliK

    Any major retail company will tell you, generally with proof, that internal theft is way way worse than shoplifting. That’s why the cameras are also in the back. ANd so long as they aren’t in the bathrooms etc they are generally 100% legal. 

    The staffing issue, noise complaints etc are probably true. Certainly is  in the States. 

    The bonus however is unlikely to ever happen. The sales staff would be livid about the techs and trainers getting part of the money when they don’t do any of the sales stuff. The techs and trainers etc would be livid about all the extra money the sales staff is getting when it is the techs etc that have to deal with the pissy customers blah blah. Easier to just not go there. Plus at least in the US such bonuses are way crazy taxed. Physical items over a particular value are also taxed which is why Apple stopped giving away iPhones, iPods etc. 

    PlusApple is loathe to do something for one group of employees that they can’t for all. And while there might be say 250 employees in Italy, divide up that reasonable bonus over all 60k folks and that’s a ton of cash. 

  • Steven Chaffer

    “working class folk would be much worse off”….I would put the word “some” before than statement. Healthcare unions are a complete joke. Ive been a healthcare professional for a number of years now. Unions “may” have a place some-wear but that place is not in healthcare.

  • Stefanie

    Don’t forget- most of them own their homes. Over time, they accumulate vacation homes at the sea and in the mountains. Every family I met, while living there for nearly five years, owned at least three homes. No matter how modest their means. Their vacations are 6-8 weeks per year. Now that Italy has become more international, they’re having to work more. They resent it. The country is used to being closed for the month of August, plus three weeks during the Christmas holidays, then another week for the Easter/Spring holidays. Plus, bank holidays, their city’s saint holiday (usually a five day weekend)…. It’s also virtually impossible to fire anyone. It takes a year or more to complete the process, even then, the employee gets several months’ notice. Now companies are finally getting wise and giving workers limited contracts, which are on “freelance” basis. This is how the labor problems started. Had there been reforms sooner, it wouldn’t have been such an “extreme” change. They’re getting the wake-up call they’ve needed for years. Now they need to muster up a collective sense of urgency to actually get work done, so they can start to become more productive.

  • Stefanie

    ….one last thing-
    While I was living there, the tax rate was almost 50%. However, you were considered a sucker if you paid taxes. It was a national joke, with a wink and a nod.

  • UncaughtException

    Knowing Apple, all of these employees have been promoted to customer.

  • Rouen McEarn

    I’m more inclined to leave it as it is thank you.  But I am curious as to how you surmise that Health Care Unions are a complete joke…?  They are very much needed over here in the UK, especially given the fact our Government want to privatise the hell out of our National Health Service.  Having said that, there are always going to be people who either have some axe to grind, or have perhaps not been helped as much as they think they could have been…

  • ToTimsAttention

    Italian management team in Apple Store RomaEst didn’t answer to the requests of the best performers united as an indipendent syndacate.
    Also employees are fed up of the way managed internal careers.
    The Apple Store RomaEst is the first Apple Store in continental Europe and the employees of this store worked hard in the name of Apple for 5 years, almost nobody of them gained a promotion or became managers in other new Apple Stores of Italy.
    The management team didn’t gave prizes to the best performers and didn’t let them grow.
    So now they are unhappy.
    This is a result of a bad management policy.
    The store leader and the market leader took new managers for new stores from other companies (not computer-related) instead of maintain the promises done to their employees.
    Apple promised tons of career opportunities to the first italian employees and gave them no reward.
    So 70 % of the Apple Store RomaEst is now unhappy.

  • Diego

    Ah..Well, that is a different matter.  What you do in the UK is different than what we want in the US.  Many Unions HERE (in the US) are a joke (grocer’s union was a complete waste of money when I was in it).  I don’t have a beef with unions, per se, but I strongly believe they should be kicked out of government offices/departments, etc. They played out their usefulness a long time ago…

  • Samatha1366

    So you didn’t understand a thing even travelling.
    USA has a wider range of opportunities.
    Italy is a small country and big companies like Apple are trying to treat people as numbers, like they usually do in USA.
    with a big difference…
    in USA you can change job easily
    in Italy it’s difficult to change job expecially when you are 30+ years old.
    After 40, it’s impossibile.
    Buying a home in Italy is impossible for a guy working in a Apple Store because the company didn’t incorporated as an inc. but as a limited company.
    Apple Italia Srl is a limited company.
    Banks don’t trust enough a ltd so what future can these employees have with this job ?
    Now they go on-strike and they’re doing right

  • Evan Benford

    So right…and yet SO wrong

About the author

Nicole MartinelliNicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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