One Way to Reduce Massive Fiat 500L Inventory Glut: An Ongoing Strike at Serbia's Fiat Assembly Plant
Entering June 2017, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ U.S. dealers had a 219-day supply of Fiat 500Ls, roughly 1,400 cars in stock for a nameplate that generates fewer than 200 U.S. sales per month.
At least for the time being, however, U.S. Fiat dealers won’t be accepting any new copies of the 500L.
Unfortunately for the Serbian economy, the Fiat 500L’s inventory reduction in the United States is merely a byproduct of a strike at FCA’s Kragujevac assembly plant. That facility, which is one-third owned by the Serbian government, produces 8 percent of the nation’s exports.
Consequently, Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s prime minister, is advocating for the Kragujevac line workers prompt return to work. “It will be very difficult for us in the future to bring new investors when there is no certainty that workers will honor contracts between unions and employers,” says Brnabic, according to Reuters.
Workers are reportedly after a 30-percent pay hike, as well as workload alterations and transit assistance. FCA wants its workers back. The Serbian government wants FCA to get its workers back.
But car buyers do not want Fiat 500Ls.
The union representing workers at the Fiat 500L factory in Kragujevac, Serbia has a big job ahead of it. Workers are demanding raises, bonuses, and a steady work schedule. In its most recent newsletter, the union listed those demands once again, but instead of news of a pay negotiation the union told workers they’ve negotiated a chicken discount at a local butcher.
Samostalni Sindikat FAS has represented workers at the 500L factory since their collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2010. At the time, the union was able to negotiate fair wages and additional benefits for workers, including a 31,000 RSD ($294 USD) monthly average salary. Workers were happy as many were unemployed after Yugo production was shut down in 2008, and the wage was considered fair at the time.
Turns out that Fiat wasn’t affected too bad by Serbia’s sudden cash crunch. As reported yesterday, the country is having a hard time coming up €90 million it owes Fiat towards a jointly owned car plant in Kragujevac. Fiat has a richer sugar daddy, and he lives in Brussels. The European Investment Bank sees no reason not to continue disbursing its 500 million euro ($625 million) loan to Fiat, Reuters says. The loan is earmarked for the same plant.
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