The Filcams is the union of the trade and tourist sectors affiliated to the Cgil. As early as the 1960s, it tried to structure a new arena of conflict against large retail companies over work organization. This conflict was intended to be part of a more general struggle against monopoly capital. However, it was only during the 1970s that it was able to establish a significant foothold within those companies. The union claims were denying the companies’ economic rationale, envisaging alternative arrangements. Wage policy, proposals on work organization and other political and organizational choices were often borrowed from the metalworkers’ federations, who were the vanguard of the labour movement. In the second half of the 1970s, Italian unions began to acknowledge the economic rationale adopted by companies. This process found a major development in the mid-Eighties, when agreements were signed with large retail companies that established performance-related pay schemes. During the Eighties and early Nineties union/employers relations developed significantly. The reasons for this strategy change in the Filcams policy are examined here, the most important of which is believed to be found in the general process of the decline of class identity due to the advent of an individualistic consumption culture.
Keywords: Unionism; Service sector; Sociology of conflict; Collective bargaining.