Patrizia Panero is Head of Industrial Relations at Markas

Industrial relations: The secret of a successful negotiation

03.06.2020 - Austria - Italy - Germany - Romania

Patrizia Panero is Head of Industrial Relations at Markas. But what does it actually mean? In short, she is in constant contact with trade unions and stakeholders for a company that counts around 8,000 employees throughout Italy. One of her tasks is to conduct negotiations that focus on the employees, while listening to all parties involved in order to understand the several needs and motivations.

At Markas, Patrizia primarily focuses on industrial relations with trade unions as well as public and private institutions. The tender industry is a sector with very particular dynamics and delicate issues. As soon as a new contractor assures itself of the management of an object, this means a change of employer for those employees who work in the properties affected by the tender. This is often associated with changes in working hours and salaries and explains why the rate of membership of the trade unions is so high in this industry. In this scenario, negotiations focus mainly on sensitive issues, but Patrizia Panero has mastered the art of negotiation in order to safeguard the interests of all parties involved.
Negotiations with the trade unions focus on the employees, their working hours and their salaries.

What is negotiation with trade unions about?

Patrizia’s role in the negotiations is crucial as they affect, whether at the beginning of a new contract or as a result of possible problems, many people as well as the interests of the parties involved. The focus is on very sensitive issues such as the employees themselves, their working hours and remuneration. In this construct Patrizia is the capstone of an extremely delicate balance.

The negotiations themselves usually take place with the representatives of those trade unions that have signed the national collective agreement (e.g. Cgil, Cisl or Uil) and are often organised directly at the workplace or conducted by the unions themselves in order to ensure that the conversations are held in a place where everyone feels comfortable. At this point, the negotiations can begin: The discussions either deal with the changes mentioned before, which result from the change of the contract, or with other issues that need to be resolved together. If the problem is not too complicated, it can easily be resolved – in other cases the negotiations can even continue for several months.
Patrizia Panero, responsible for industrial relations at Markas, talks about the key factors for a successful negotiation with trade unions and stakeholders

The key factors of a successful negotiation

Patrizia reveals her secrets and tells us which are the most important skills to successfully perform her role.

It all starts with listening: active listening is the first element that matters if you want to understand all facets of a problem. Then it is a matter of trying to avoid confrontations. Conscious of the fact that confrontations do not lead to any result, Patrizia always tries to stay calm – even if her conversational partners are purposely looking for a confrontation. Another winning skill is consistency. “Continuity is what shapes your reputation. As long as the person you’re talking to knows that you are fair, don’t play with them and are true to your word, half of the work is done,” reveals Patrizia Panero.

She concludes saying that there is no need to be afraid of change, because every change also leads to innovation. One and the same problem can be solved in different ways – there is no right or wrong. A change of strategy can also be an advantage, you just have to know how to interpret the situations.