Fiat S.p.A. employees at a former Bertone plant in Grugliasco, Italy, made concessions with CEO Sergio Marchionne in exchange for a 500 million-euro ($739 million) investment to build Maserati models. The work program, which allows for shorter breaks and increased work shifts, has won the nod of 88 percent of the 1,011 workers taking part in the ballot, Fismic union representative Roberto Di Maulo disclosed in a phone interview.
Fiat bought the Italian plant from bankrupt automobile design company in 2009. He also said that the vote will allow for the revamp of the plant, which is one of Italy’s “most glorious car plants.”
Di Maulo also mentioned that the workers fought to save their company, and their approval was a symbolic event. The company wants to manufacture the successor of Maserati Quattroporte at the plant.
The company also wants to build a new midsized sedan at the plant that will compete with BMW 5 series, Mercedes-Benz E class and Audi A6. The sedan is due in the last quarter of 2012 while the new Quattroporte is set to launch in the middle of 2013.
The total production for the new Quattroporte and the midsized sedan is planned at 30,000 to 35,000 units per year at peak cycle. The labor deal is the third in less than a year that Marchionne has accomplished in line with his strategy to enhance productivity at Fiat's domestic factories. The program received a much bigger majority vote at the Grugliasco plant compared to other factories after Fiom announced to the workers to approve it in order to preserve their jobs.
Fiom is the company’s largest labor union and the concessions’ leading opponent. Prior to the announcement, Professor Giuliano Noci at the MIP Management School of Milan's polytechnic university has stated that it was a very positive outcome.
He added that unions finally understand that it is vital to change the rules of the game to be competitive. He also said that this could be an “iconic moment” for the revamp of production of the company in Italy and the productivity of the country as well.