Fiat's Italian Renaissance Draws (More) Labor Strife

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
fiat s italian renaissance draws more labor strife

With some 60k Italian jobs and a $20b investment at stake, Fiat’s “Fabbrica Italia” renovation of its home-country production plans are crucial to the integration of Fiat and Chrysler. And rather than negotiating a national labor agreement with Italy’s fractious unions, Fiat has been revamping its Italian plants on a case-by-case basis. This strategy has already backfired at the firm’s Naples-based Pomigliano plant, where the Italian metalworker’s union Fiom decried Fiat’s plans as “discriminatory.” Since then, Fiat has moved onto its Mirafiori plant in Turin, where Fiat wants to build the next-generation Compass/Patriot models for Chrysler and a derivative SUV for Alfa-Romeo on the firm’s new “Compact Wide” platform. And once again, Fiom is up to its old tricks. The WSJ reports that every other union has approved the new Mirafiori deal with Fiat, except Fiom, which has been banned from representing workers at the plant, pending a January vote by workers. However, Fiom represents some 22 percent of Mirafiori workers, and the union has announced an eight-hour strike for January 28.

The deal, which involves adding shifts and increasing wages in return for limits on strikes and benefits, was denounced by Fiom boss Maurizio Landini as

It’s an unprecedented attack on democracy and on people’s rights. Fiat’s acts are anti-union, anti-democratic and authoritarian. It’s necessary to respond if we don’t want social barbarism

But, as the sole holdout among Italy’s unions, Fiom’s fiery rhetoric seems only to be increasing the union’s isolation. The leader of another, more moderate union, which has signed the Fiat deal sniffs

Fiom has been a political organisation for more than 10 years and it behaves as such even when it pretends to be a union

And sure enough, Italy’s PD (Social Democrat) party has weighed in on the issue in support of Fiom, as the party’s economics minister tells AGI

we’re talking about a fact that has a general relevance and touches the issue of the quality of democracy. We think that the solution found for Mirafiori and Pomigliano is unacceptable because it is impossible to deny representation to part of the workers, it is necessary to act on the representation rules

But how bad is the deal for workers? According to France24

The 40-hour working week remains unchanged, but the agreement will allow Fiat to impose night shifts, cut down time allotted for breaks and raise overtime. As well as improving production, the unions say the changes will permit a rise in salaries of up to 3,700 euros (4,800 dollars) gross a year.

Considering that Fiat loses money on all of its Italian plants and faces shifting production of Pomigliano’s Panda to Poland, it’s a bit surprising that Fiom is willing to play hardball in the face of zero union solidarity. Maybe a short strike will get it out of their system. If not, Fiat is going to have its hands full trying to maintain its identity as an Italian firm.

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • 50merc 50merc on Dec 29, 2010

    "Fiat loses money on all of its Italian plants" Which means Fiat is functioning as a welfare agency. If the unions won't do their part to make plants profitable, shut 'em down and move production to a country where people will happily staff the plants.

  • Tommy Boy Tommy Boy on Dec 30, 2010

    I'm sure that within days President Obama will be calling the head of the Fiom union to congratulate him.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.