Fiat’s largest union protested in Rome against Marchionne’s production plan

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 18, 2010

A protest erupted last Saturday over CEO Sergio Marchionne's proposal to limit strikes and increase shifts at Fiat S.p.A.’s Pomigliano d'Arco car factory. The protest in Rome was led by Fiat S.p.A.'s largest union. The Pomigliano plan is being used by Fiat to serve as a test case to gain labor concessions that may become a watershed for Italian companies.

A speech from Maurizio Landini, head of the FIOM Union, had called for a general strike. He said that companies have social responsibility and that “cutting salaries and rights” isn’t the right approach to be competitive. Marchionne is aiming to increase productivity at Fiat's domestic plants, which lags behind its foreign factories.

And to accomplish this, Marchionne has proposed to move production of its Panda model from Poland to its Pomigliano factory, which is located near Naples in southern Italy.

Fiat intends to invest 20 billion euros ($28 billion) through 2014 in Italy to develop vehicles and improve its plants. But one of its conditions is for the unions to agree to reduce strikes and add shifts.

Last June, a majority of the workers at the Pomigliano plant approved the deal while more than a third of them voted against it, explaining that what Marchionne is suggesting violates their constitutional right to strike.

According to Marchionne, Fiat will only move forward with the investment plan, dubbed “Fabbrica Italia,” or “Italian factory,” if unions ink a deal to boost productivity in a new labor contract.

Landini said that the union had submitted counterproposals and is waiting for the company to respond. The Pomigliano factory has had incidents of labor unrest in the past and it currently is the least productive among all five of Fiat's Italian plants, especially when you consider the slow demand for the Alfa Romeo models which are built there. In 2009, Pomigliano produced 35,000 units of the Alfa Romeo 147, 159 and GT coupe models. [via autonews - sub. required]

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