The Italian ceramic industry is making every possible organizational effort to implement preventive measures for worker protection, with the aim of reconciling public health priorities with the continuation of transport and production activities. In today’s challenging market situation, it is essential for Italian ceramic companies to continue their operations in accordance with specific strategies and business choices so as not to undermine all the investments and efforts that have been made over the years.

Ever since the creation of the first “coronavirus red zone”, and in consultation with the trade unions, ceramic companies have organized working and eating spaces that guarantee the legally required safety distances; they have increasingly adopted smart working solutions, reaching values of 30% and peaks of 50% in office areas; they have made it easier for employees to take holiday leave for family needs; they have suspended training courses and adopted different methods for company meetings and unavoidable transfers. They have also widely disseminated information on legal requirements and, where appropriate, distributed protective equipment and carried out more frequent sanitization of workplaces.

Freight transport is an essential service that must continue to operate. To protect drivers and shipping personnel, ceramic companies have adopted containment measures such as new entry, transit and exit procedures and the use of dedicated routes and pre-established timescales to ensure that people maintain a safe distance in all situations.

Another fundamental aspect for a sector that exports 85% of its output is that the borders between countries remain open. As Confindustria, we call on the EU to provide clear and simple rules for the safe conduct of trade that apply to all Member States so as to avoid unilateral closures such as those that have been implemented by Austria and Slovenia in the last few days. We welcome the decision taken by Germany, which despite closing its borders in response to the coronavirus emergency continues to allow trucks to circulate, avoiding measures that are harmful for everyone without helping to control the spread of the virus.

It is important for the government to swiftly introduce the necessary social shock-absorbers for protecting workers’ incomes and to provide companies with rapid support with such essential factors as liquidity, lost earnings and costs incurred for promotional events which will no longer be able to take place.

In keeping with this focus on people and the local area, our Executive Board has decided to donate 200,000 euros to the Sassuolo Hospital Foundation and, through the Local Health Authority, to hospitals in the province of Reggio Emilia for the purchase of intensive care beds to help our excellent healthcare system cope with the COVID-19 emergency.