“Fifty years of history, a strong and passionate family behind and a young and energetic managerial team leading a company which is firmly established at top market positions. It is Enoplastic, a firm born as a ‘hobby’ from Piero Macchi’s passion for mechanics and good wine which has been constantly growing thanks to an enlightened management of the resources and of the technological assets of the company. ” This is what the firm’s site reads. It had been born Italian, then transformed into a global brand, which produces caps, seals, and fastenings for wine. Is it an advertisement?, you might be wondering. Yes. A recent news deserves to be spread. The entrepreneur Piero Macchi, the one who had created the company, died at the age of 87. He bequeathed to the 280 employees of the main seat and of its four branches (in Spain, US, Australia, and New Zealand) one and a half million euros, distributed among the payrolls according to a justice criterion based on their length of service, role, and competence. The youngest employees have received about 2 thousand euros each, whereas the senior and most qualified ones were given over 10 thousand euros.
According to what his daughter Giovanna declared to Corriere della Sera, Piero Macchi was devoted to charity. VareseNews, however, praised Enoplastic’s business style, where “entire families” work, “a rigorous code of ethics is applied” and “strict attention to safety” is paid. Yes, it deserves advertising. Because it is a slap in the face those who argue that to make money, one has to be “flexible” with the law, diminishing rights and spending less for people to maintain the high standards of personal comfort and luxury.
In a context of widespread black labor exploitation and humiliation of workers, there are extraordinary cases of ordinary honesty and generosity, which are simply correctness. Yet, exactlyt because they are – unfortunately – exceptional cases, instead of “normal” behavior, they deserve advertising. On Christmas in 2012, t he “King of Cashmere”, Brunello Cucinelli, from Umbria region (Italy), distributed among his nearly 800 employees the profits of the company listed on the stock market, approximately 5million euros, to “reward and share with the employees the joy of the fruits of 34 years of work and business growth.
The definition of employee participation in profits was given by Luigi Einaudi, in his lecture on social policy held in the early ’50s, “a contract under which the employer agrees to distribute, in addition to the payment of normal wages, among the employees of his company, a part of the net profits, without participation in the losses. “This is the “crowning – the jurist wrote – of an earlier state of mutual respect and trust.” It is a firm behaviour pattern that characterizes civilized countries: the workers, i.e., the weakest agents in economy, but also those to whom the success of a business must be mostly attributed, partake in the profits and not in the losses. How far this way of understanding economic action and trade is today. Yet, statistical research seem to “reward” those who adopt this kind of bond.
The first historical experience to be registered dates back to 1795 in the United States, at the Pennsylvania Glass Works owned by Albert Gallatin, who was to become Secretary of the Treasury during Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency. In the twentieth century, however, the Walrasian theory prevailed, according to which the market follows strict and perfect rules, based on the principle of causality and determination. Yet, it was exactly the last century that was marked by the emergence of a cultural and economic paradigm which considered equilibrium to be the result of numerous complex and interdependent variables. In Italy it was first applied in the nineties, during syndicalist negotiations, and subsequently as a productivity reward. In this latter form, however, it has changed its nature, transforming what used to be recognition of the value of one’s labor for the capital into a tool for blackmailing and exploitation.
Camillo Olivetti, was the founder of social welfare inside the company in the early twentieth century, later followed by his son Adriano. He established the company health service. In 1932, he created the Foundation Domenico Burzio (named after the first technical director and a close associate of Olivetti’s father), to guarantee his workers “social security beyond the limit of their insurance.” Workers received housing, social, medical, and health assistance, as well as a free bus service to take them to Ivrea. The model, in short, was that of “a factory on a human scale” of social responsibility. Technology and welfare were the Olivetti’s “keys” to open the doors of success. He taught his son: “You can introduce new methods to improve production, there is just one thing you cannot do: lay off.”