Laid-off Fiat workers on Monday blocked two main roads in Italy, while colleagues still employed went on strike, halting the assembly line at a key Turin car plant, Reuters reported.


Reuters said the first lay-off round of 5,600 Fiat workers came into effect on Monday. Fiat wants to cut costs but unions say the car maker should invest more aggressively and lay off fewer workers.


According to Reuters, Fiat Auto workers arriving yesterday at the Mirafiori plant in Turin were greeted by a sign forbidding laid-off workers from entering.


Staff who still had jobs downed tools for four hours, blocking Mirafiori’s car assembly line, unions told Reuters, while Fiat said about a quarter of the plant’s workers were on strike.


Reuters said about 200 people blocked a main road on the island of Sicily, where all 1,800 workers at the Termini Imerese plant have been laid off.


Around 700 people who once worked at a factory near Milan blocked a road north of Italy’s financial capital for an hour, Reuters said, adding that further stoppages and marches were planned for the next few days, and metal workers have asked union leaders to call a general strike in Turin on December 13.


Reuters said the laid-off workers will be paid a percentage of their salaries from a fund made up of government and company contributions but, while the official plan says that most of the layoffs are temporary, Fiat managers have said only half the workers are likely ever to return to work at the company.