Working in Communion in Times of Crisis

Working in Communion in Times of Crisis

By Silvano Gianti
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009

N30_Silvano_GiantiThe businesses of the Eastern Riviera haven´t avoided the crisis which haunts the world economy. In the Tigullio district alone, there are almost 700 workshops belonging to fourteen businesses of various sectors, including seamanship, who are receiving the benefits of unemployment insurance.

The recent proposal of a territorial pact has been backed by the President of the Genovese Province and by the Councilor of Economic Development in the course of the “general state of things” with local companies, institutions and equivalent social groups promoted by the very same Province and Economic Society.  During the meeting, the administrators proposed “a concrete method for building a platform of shared initiatives, starting from the analysis of the situation, in order to respond to Tigullio´s crisis. Of course, all this is a consequence of the global crisis, owed to erroneous economical politics which are far from the real economy founded on work.”

It´s precisely in Tigullio, in Casarza Ligure, that the Tassano Group has its headquarters. It´s among the first businesses who put the economy of communion into practice. The company employes nearly 1500 people in its seventy cooperatives. In the Casarza branch, where workers carry out assembly, wrapping ang packing of various articles for piece-work, an experience of a “social-oriented factory” is going ahead and includes 130 workers in vulnerable or disadvantaged situations.

Over the years, the consortium has been able to well-root iself in the territory, to the point of becoming patrimony of the whole community. What Tassano is doing has become part of local development”, said the Mayor of Sestri Levante. Meanwhile, during this time, Tassano has realized that it can count on a group of workers and educations who believe in the challenge that the Consortium has taken on.

Everyday, they try to put together the needs of individuals and those of production, notwithstanding the limits imposed by various inconveniences that the situation presents. Contracts with clients have to be respected, without compromising the quality of the manufactured goods and especially without forgetting that the person is always at the center of work being done.

This is how we gain the strength to go ahead,” said Klemens Ries, administrator of the Group. “It comes from this group experience, from being a team that has learned, over time, to work together and mutually support each other. It´s the only way we´re able to keep motivated every day.” And amid the boom of occupational crisis, work proposals keep arriving at Tassano.

N30_Klemens_ReisKlemens recounts: “Recently, various happenings have taken place which give us hope: we received a call from the administrator of a business that we´ve been working with for years, to control, finish and pack car and motorcycle filters. They told us that within a week, the amount work they needed done would take nine less people to complete.”

That evening, I wasn´t able to sleep,” continued Klemens. “The night seemed eternal. I had in mind the faces of each of those people whom I would have to send home. I know all their stories, pieced together day after day while talking on the work benches of Casarza. The next day, I went to talk to the administrator, suffering painfully inside and yet with the hope of finding some solution. To my surprise, I discovered that he wanted to save those jobs, too! Considering the employees before the profit, we were both ready to reorganize production lines, moving jobs around in other ways. At the end of the morning, no one was left without work.

Another significant offer received during the same period was one from a business who needed to package bluetooth chips for motorcycle and ski helmets. They had made the same proposal to various businesses in the area. “When we met with the administrator, we told him why we work, our desire to always place the person at the center and not the profit. After a week, they called us to say that they were giving the work to us: 10,000 pieces per month. And they specified that they hadn´t made their choice because we had the best prices, but because we work in a motivated and positive environment.”

In these weeks, a business in Genova is starting rubber gasket production. Because the administrator knew about the laborartory, he went directly to Casarza to give them this work. “Thinking of all the success of the recent days related to the other two jobs,” said Klemens, “I told the administrator that there were other laboratories near us whose jobs were at risk, and suggested that if he wouldn´t want to try asking other businesses, we would be equally happy.” “No,” he said, "people around talk about the way you work at Tassano Group. I´m looking for this type of work and especially these people.”

These are all recent facts that show how the Economy of Communion, beyond distributing profits, participates in making new men and women that give testimony, through their actions, of how a new way of working, that puts the person at the center, can be winning.

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