Italian union FIOM and parent CGIL are to hold crunch talks in Rome this Sunday (9 January) ahead of next week's crucial referendum as both look to establish a position concerning the future of Fiat's Mirafiori plant.

The two bodies are meeting to thrash out a view before the 13 and 14 January votes that could determine a future EUR1bn (US$1.3bn) investment in the plant - an injection of cash that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionnne has hinted could transfer elsewhere unless he secures a substantial majority in favour of a new deal.

All of Fiat's other unions - FIM-CISL, UILM, FISMIC and UGL - are recommending acceptance of Fiat's productivity proposals for Mirafiori but FIOM has remained implacably opposed to the as-yet unspecified agreement.

However, FIOM is rebutting any claim there is a rift between itself and CGIL before it sits down in Rome for talks.

"The struggle is not between our organisations - the struggle is not between yes and no [referendum] - the struggle is between no and nothing," a FIOM spokesman in Italy told just-auto.

"The question is how to behave before the referendum and after if the 'yes' will win."

There appears to be no clear edict coming from FIOM to its members, who represent around 22% of Mirafiori's workforce, although the union spokesman insisted "nobody at FIOM is recommending yes."

FIOM claims the referendum is in fact not legitimate, although concedes its members can vote freely. 

It also says the other unions are estimating an 80% vote in favour of Fiat's Mirafiori plan, although it remains sceptical if that percentage will be achieved.

And the labour body shed some light on future industrial relations at Mirafiori, with the news that every union voting in favour of the new agreement will be permitted to have 15 members on the Rappreresentanza Syndicale Aziendale or RASA body.

However, FIOM says should it end up with no members on RASA, it would not have the right to hold workers' meetings within working time. "That is incredible but it is real," the FIOM spokesman said.

The CGIL central committee will also meet on 15 January - the day after the referendum - "because we are living in a special situation" at which FIOM even raised the possibility of a difference of opinion within the two bodies.

"Maybe on 15 January, there will be a clash between the two political lines within CGIL and FIOM," added the spokesman.

A Fiat spokeswoman in Italy confirmed the automaker was looking for a majority in favour of its proposals. "That could be 51%," she told just-auto, although adding: "It needs to be at least 51%."