Sabotage: Italian style

Media reports of workers sabotaging their work are rare, but this does not necessarily mean that such acts are rare.

This may be because the act was not sufficiently newsworthy or that management did not want the outside world to know about it.

It could also be the case that the act was not detected or interpreted to be something else, e.g. human error, an accident, no obvious explanation could be found.

A case of worker sabotage that clearly breached all of the above was reported in today's Guardian.

In Bag handlers in Rome accused of sabotage Tom Kington reports on so-called "lazy handling staff" who have been accused of "sabotaging the belts up to 10 times a day to ease the fast pace of their working day and to win some valuable overtime".

What is more, video evidence is said to be available that shows chewing gum stuck on luggage bar code readers and conveyor belts deliberately immobilised with suitcases, nails or plastic bags.

However, how sabotage is interpreted is problematic and is often dependent on who is committing the act and who is affected by the act.

Is it purely mischief, or is it a less recognised part or form of the bargaining process between employees and employer?

The media report portrays the acts as the former, while I would opt for the latter.

Having said that, more information of what goes on in this particular workplace is needed and unless the sabotage continues to get media coverage such acts are likely to rest in many people's minds as the work of irrational employees.

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