Many of you don’t know this, but during my days at university, I supplemented my meager grant money (in the days when European governments gave grant money to students) by gambling said grant. The extra money came in useful for text books, science equipment, drinking lager till my head span, etc. The fruit machines and betting on horses was fun enough, but where I really excelled was poker. Texas Hold ‘em, to be more accurate. I learnt many of life’s lessons that way, but the one which stuck in my mind the most was this little nugget: “When you play a bluff, be prepared to have that bluff called.” Words which certain Italian unions should have heeded.
On July the first, I wrote about how Sergio (we’re on first name terms) had lost patience with Italian unions and threatened them to change their ways or risk losing work, namely in the shape of Fiat’s new Panda. Even though 62 percent of the unions agreed to the new terms and conditions, it wasn’t enough to ensure industrial harmony. Sergio was reportedly unhappy at this result.
But, the unions (well, most of them) saw the light. The Associated Press (via Google News) reports that Fiat SpA will push ahead with this €700m investment into the Pomigliano plant to pay for tooling for the new Fiat Panda. Fiat confirmed this when Sergio Marchionne met with unions which represented 83 percent of the workforce and signed a deal to back Fiat’s plans.
The only union to oppose these plans was the FIOM. A Fiat spokesman said “The plan goes ahead and we will be working with the unions who signed up for the deal to ensure we don’t have any disruptions from those FIOM workers,”. Wow! Strong words, indeed. But the FIOM weren’t taking this lying down and issued their own statement, saying, “This does not seem a useful way to confront problems created by the serious crisis we are facing,”
Despite this frosty relationship, Sergio wants to invest strongly in Italy. In a four-page letter to Fiat employees, Sergio said: “The contents of the plan that you know well foresees concentrating large investments in the country to increase the number of cars produced in Italy and to see exports grow,” And grow they will, as this new deal will see production at the Pomigliano plants grow from 30,000 units per year to 300,000 per year. While things are looking rosy for Fiat, Sergio might want to heed this other little poker nugget of wisdom. Anyone who’s watched “Rounders“, will remember Mike McDermott’s (played by Matt Damon) speech:
“In ‘Confessions of a Winning Poker Player,’ Jack King said, ‘Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.’”
Let’s hope Chrysler doesn’t turn out to be Sergio’s “tough beat”.