Union members in Rome rejoiced as its labor court has ordered Fiat to hire 145 unionized workers. The conflict between Fiat and the union arose when the automaker asked workers last year for more flexible working conditions in order to cut absenteeism and increase productivity. According to the Fiom-CGIL union, Fiat violated an Italian law that bans discrimination against union members.
It also said that Fiat had excluded many of its members from new hirings at its factory in Pomigliano, near Naples, which employs about 2,100 workers who make the Panda minicar. The union went up against the plan and rejected a new contract with Fiat that included the reforms. The union asserted that its members hold the right to be represented at Fiat’s plants and so it filed 61 suits in 20 courts throughout Italy.
Several courts have favored Fiat while others ruled in Fiom-CGIL’s favor. Last April, a Turin labor court scrapped 21 appeals from Fiom, concluding that the union didn’t have a right to representation.
Fiat, which has about 86,000 workers in Italy, is reducing its capital expenditures in Europe by half a billion euros in 2012 due to an extended market slump in the region as the result of persistent national debt problems and its own overcapacity. ACEA said that in the first five months, Fiat Group sales fell by 16.6% to 375,795 in the EU and EFTA countries while the total European market had a 7.3% decline.