Italian trade unions announced that staff from the Cameri Air Base site -  where the Italian F-35s are assembled - are planning to go on strike on April 24, 2018. Workers are reproaching the government for using 600 temporary contractors, while only employing 270 staff directly.

According to Sergio Busca, regional secretary of the Unione Italiana del Lavoro (UILM), some employees saw their temporary contracts being renewed for years, despite the government’s commitments to progressively replace them with permanent staff. “It is unacceptable, there is nothing similar in the rest of Italy”, he argues.

The Cameri facility, located in the Novara province, is producing the wings of the Italian F-35As. Moreover, it is also the “centre of reference for maintenance, repairs and up-dating of the F-35s operating the in Euro-Mediterranean area.

So far, it  delivered nine F-35A for the Italian Air Force, and one F-35B for the Italian Navy (which was the first to be produced outside of the United States).

For Leonarda, the Italian partner of Lockheed Martin that runs the F-35 program in Italy, the current production contract should provide work until 2035, while maintenance will last all the way to 2045. The company argues that the use of temporary workers is justified in a “young” program like the F-35, as they are still in training to become “expert technicians”.

Although being promised to receive permanent contracts throughout 2018, the workers voted in favor of and are now preparing for the first strike in the history of the Cameri facility.