News that Fiat is to set up a EUR1bn (US$1.32bn) joint venture with Chrysler at its Mirafiori Turin plant has been cautiously welcomed by one Italian union - although with caveats.

Fiat is to bring a new platform from the US to Mirafiori to produce larger segment passenger cars and SUVs for the Jeep and Alfa Romeo brands.

However, the Fiom union, which has been at loggerheads with Fiat for much of 2010, says it is "afraid" the automaker will impose productivity conditions much along the lines of those at its Pomigliano d'Arco factory.

"From the point of view of investment it sounds interesting because it speaks about a future for this historical plant of Mirafiori," a Fiom spokesman in Rome told just-auto.

"We are afraid Fiat is planning about working conditions to build at Mirafiori a new agreement concerning working conditions, which will be very similar to that of Pomigliano. As we were against the Pomigliano agreement, this will be very difficult for us."

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne won the backing from a majority of workers at the Pomigliano site last month to introduce some changes to the national labour contract. The factory is due to build the new Panda if workers agree to the new deal.

Despite Fiom's reservations, the union nonetheless appeared to broadly welcome Marchionne's news today, although further talks between Fiat and the unions are scheduled for Monday.

"Marchionne has said he wants to start this meeting without prejudice - political [and] cultural," said the Fiom spokesman. "He wants to start a new story and this sounds good."

Fiat's decision to bring the new platform to Mirafiori could result in 250,000-280,000 models being produced per year, with the potential for new jobs.