Italian government ministers remain confident they will receive the backing of all unions to sign a deal tomorrow [16 February] in Rome concerning the future strategy for Fiat's Termini Imerese plant in Sicily.

The FIOM labour body is apparently withholding its support for the time being as it evaluates a deal agreed late last night in Rome between the economic development ministry and the Sicilian regional government.

Fiat has earmarked the plant for closure, but seven separate companies have tendered to take over the site, helped by national and regional government grants of EUR450m (US$609m) that should increase current employment there from 1,617 workers to 3,340.

"It was a good agreement for the region [and] for the unions, except FIOM which is waiting some days to take [account] of the industrial plan," an economic development ministry spokeswoman in Rome told just-auto.

"It is a very good plan - there is no reason to say no because we increase jobs and there is a high amount of money to invest. Only FIOM needs some [time] to study the plan."

Economic development minister Paolo Romani held the hour-long meeting in his headquarters in the Italian capital late last night and secured the agreement of the Sicilian regional government as well as unions UGL, CISL and UILM.

Yesterday however, FIOM voiced scepticism concerning the proposals asking that any replacement work at Termini Imerese be 100% devoted to automobile production.

Despite FIOM's reluctance, the deal is slated to be signed tomorrow at 13:00 local in the economics ministry building. Two of the seven companies bidding for the site are luxury car maker Rossignorlo and EV producer Cimino.