The Fiat group does not need any new cash for its struggling vehicle unit, Dow Jones reported, citing a radio interview with a senior executive on Monday, as union leaders and thousands of Fiat workers staged protests around Italy.

“Fiat Auto does not need any new capital,” Alessandro Barberis, the Italian industrial group’s human resources director, reportedly said in a radio interview in response to a labour union’s appeal for the state to buy a stake in the nation’s largest private employer, Dow Jones said.

According to Dow Jones, Barberis told Radio 24 that Fiat’s money-losing car-making division will “be able to carry out its plan” thanks to a recently approved 2.5 billion euro capital increase using internal group resources. “Fiat is not asking for money from the state, nor from anyone,” he added, according to the report.

Dow Jones said Barberis was responding to Luigi Angeletti, head of the UIL union, who said “large financial resources, greater than those the company is able to muster,” were necessary to bolster the Italian automobile industry. Angeletti also said Fiat needed to become larger to compete, the report added.

Dow Jones said that, after a year of plummeting sales, Fiat began idling 5,600 workers on Monday in the first step of a restructuring plan the government approved last Thursday after two weeks of protests.