The current systems of quoting and estimating damages are not perfectly reliable since they consider the repair of standard damages (light-medium-serious or replacement), being impossible, for obvious reasons, to analyse all the case studies about morphology and dislocation of the impact. There can never actually be a damage that is perfectly similar to another; each damage is different even if similar to another. In order to obtain a standard model of correct quantification of the damage, we should analyse correctly the hourly rate of labour; this should be then multiplied by the effective hours of work. To this cost one should then add the exact amount of the expenses for the disposal of waste produced during the processing, the exact cost of spare parts if used, and of the actual materials employed (fillers, paints, paper for masking, etc.)
It’s useless to say that we work at a rate of 23 Euros per hour or 45 Euros per hour. It is quite evident that with the same type of repair one can multiply the 23 Euros rate for 25 hours instead of multiplying 45 Euros by 10; a lower hourly rate would anyway produce a higher final cost.
The final cost is not given just by the hourly rate, but by the result of a multiplication with another figure (the number of hours the repair took to complete) which is hardly measurable.
This type of calculation, to all the small and large craft companies, results unmanageable and absurd, other than complex. We are craftsmen, we are neither machines nor robots, nor industries.
The only ones who can establish the cost of every single operation with certainty are the craftsmen who carry out the repair, since only they can certify the quality of the same operation, the way in which it was carried out, the quality of the products used. In every company often there are one or more cycles of work that are made up of different working methodologies and different products of different quality. An external witness asked to analyse a processing exactly and correctly, should also analyse the processing phase, the cost of materials used by dissecting the finished product and most of all the endurance of the quality in time.
A processing may result perfect as soon as it is finished but then lose its quality in time. An example of what may happen is represented clearly in the world of fashion: a “griffed” product is distinguished from any imitation by price and quality. Two apparently similar products will soon prove to be very different. Two pairs of shoes – one original, the other not original – are distinguished by the quality of their materials, by the quality of processing, by the respect paid to the rights of workers involved in the processing. The first pair will cost 10 times more than the other and will last 10 times longer. All of this is pursued by the law, and we are talking about clothing, that cannot damage the health of those who wear it in any way. The same thing happens in the whole world of handicraft and in particular in the world of car repair, where the quality of repair does affect the safety of people, and where the same process of counterfeit of the piece of clothing is not legally pursued.
There are no laws in Italy to define the standards to assess a perfect processing, but there are rules that establish the standard of correctness between who orders the work and those who carry it out. The only one who may certify the processing is the one who carries it out, by self-certifying it, and by taking his own responsibilities.
The means available to the non craft technicians are labour time allowances based on certain rates of labour. No law regulating the craft work or the rights of consumers imposes and compels the craftsman to follow these restrictive rules which do not take into account the uniqueness of handicraft work nor the highly humanistic aspect that such processing entails. We are not talking about mass processing, about industrial processing, we are talking about master craftsmen who make each processing unique and non reproducible, for good and bad. We are talking about jobs that are in fact priceless, if not for the price given symbolically by the same craftsman that carries them out.
If we assume to set the rate of handicraft labour, and if we think about two craftsmen with completely different experiences, not necessarily the one who takes less time to complete a job will produce a worse manufactured product than the other. We are talking about experience, obviously, but most of all about manual skills and intellect, qualities that cannot be priced if not symbolically.
No one could ever think about establishing a rate of labour for the time employed to create a painting by Van Gogh or more simply to create a manufactured product in glass in one of the many workshops in Murano. We are talking about arts and professions that have been passed on from father to son, from generation to generation.
We are talking about art because in the past the distinction between craftsman and artist did not exist up until the 12th century, when somebody started to make a distinction between major and minor arts. We are talking about craftsmanship that allowed man to evolve up until now, which probably dates back to 7000 B.C., the same one protected by article 45 of our body of laws that reads: “the law contributes to the protection and the development of handicraft”, the same that has made our country famous all over the world. We’re talking about the Renaissance.
May all this be included vulgarly and superficially in a rate of labour and in a labour time allowance?
No; these are instruments in the hands of the bureaucrats for the interests of the few, against a category that has always been respected and honoured with special laws and consideration, who works in the interest of all. These are instruments that may give an order of magnitude to the laymen, but until they are in the hands of entities who think only about their own interests, and of experts paid between 30 and 40 Euros per survey, they will be lethal weapons against a category that has always been the backbone of our country. On the one hand we have enterprises that deal with money, supported by a system that has proved many times to be a failure (see the crisis of 1929 and our current crisis) with its buying and selling of debts and credits (instead of manufactured products); on the other hand we have a country that produces, that creates wealth and jobs like no other country in the world can do, with its priceless heritage of arts and crafts, put up against the wall by laws, rates of labour and labour time allowances that are clearly against our body of laws, depriving professions of their dignity, increasing the processing costs and thus making them less competitive in the world.