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February 10, 2011

ITALY: FIM happy to avoid Fiat-government meeting

A moderate Fiat union is maintaining it would prefer to discuss future strategy directly with the automaker next week rather than at this weekend's high-powered government meeting it has branded as "political" and "only for appearance."

A moderate Fiat union is maintaining it would prefer to discuss future strategy directly with the automaker next week rather than at this weekend’s high-powered government meeting it has branded as “political” and “only for appearance.”

Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi as well as several of his most high-profile economics and labour mininsters, have summoned Sergio Marchionne to the talks to discuss the Fiat CEO’s suggestion the automaker could potentially transfer its headquarters to the US following any merger with Chrysler.

“We prefer to speak directly to Fiat without government – the government does not have a real role,” Federazione Italiana Metalmeccanici (FIM) national secretary with automotive responsibility Bruno Vitali told just-auto from Italy.

“We have no great expectations – because the government has no money to put on the table – it [meeting] is political – just for media opinion – an operation for appearance.”

Despite FIM’s belief the meeting is for political purposes only, the union nonetheless recognises it is “logical” to have two centres in Turin and Detroit, although it highlights the Italian city’s design and engineering excellence.

“The know-how in Turin is not possible to emigrate,” added Vitali, noting FIM had requested a meeting with Marchionne next week.

In contrast to FIM’s more conciliatory stance, hardline union FIOM has urged a workforce presence at this weekend’s meeting.

“Our position is the government must call the unions to be there on Saturday,” a FIOM spokesman in Italy told just-auto. “The unions must be involved to have a place around that table.”

Other politicians scheduled to attend the meeting include labour minister Maurizio Sacconi and cabinet under-secretary Gianni Letta.

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