Moderate Fiat union FIM claims it secured the best possible deal in the recent tortuous negotiations surrounding the Mirafiori plant and remains confident the agreement will hold as it has in similar circumstances in the Pomigliano d'Arco plant.

Four out of Fiat's five unions including FIM ((Federazione Italiani Metalmeccanici) at the plant agreed to new working conditions, although the hardline FIOM labour body flatly rejected the proposals.

"For us it is the maximum possible at Mirafiori," a FIM spokesman in Italy told just-auto. "It is not the perfect agreement, but it is good because it is the future of the plant - OK it is not ideal of course.

"In the future, probably there could be more jobs and in particular, [an] increase in salary. Because of the new hours, Fiat pays more."

The FIM spokesman emphasised Italian trade unions appeared to be forming into two opposing elements in terms of industrial relations, although he conceded FIOM was still a powerful body in the country.

"In Italy, the situation is there are two blocs of unions - two models of unions in confrontation," said the FIM spokesman. "FIOM - and the other bloc is FIM and other reforming unions. It is true the confrontation is between the two blocs."

Despite FIOM's hard stance, it nonetheless represents 350,000 metalworkers in Italy said FIM, noting its labour colleagues enjoyed "a lot of power with the media."

FIOM has consistently opposed a raft of productivity changes wrought by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who previously hinted he could withdraw investment at Mirafiori for example, if his unions did not ink a deal.

But despite arguing all unions should remain closely linked, FIM notes an increasing tendency of FIOM to adopt a tougher stance in negotiation with management.

"It is better FIOM stays with us, but the management of FIOM is difficult from the past," said the FIM spokesman. "They are more ideological today - in the past they were more practical - now they are a lot of hardline people.

"We are confident about Marchionne, but we want him to respect the agreement with us. In the Pomigliano plant, the agreement was respected."

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