Fiat’s largest union has called series of strikes this week as it as it seeks to resolve a slew of grievances, although the automaker insists it is taking “a firm view” of employee issues.

The FIOM labour representative group is maintaining its members will receive less money this year in the form of bonuses and additional payments and has also staged a walkout at the Termini Imerese plant today (21 July) in protest at its planned closure.

A further two hour strike is planned for Friday in protest at Fiat’s plans for more flexible working arrangements at its Pomigliano d’Arco factory.

FIOM is also calling for the reinstatement of three workers it says were sacked at Fiat’s Melfi plant and the ending of the manufacturer’s plans to close the Termini Imerese plant in Sicily at the end of next year.

But Fiat has vigorously defended its decision to sack workers at the Melfi factory, maintaining they were dismissed for being pictured outside the Pomigliano d’Arco site near Naples after requesting sick leave.

“One of them [employees] had asked for sick leave and then was photographed picketing outside the Pomigliano plant,” a Fiat spokesman in Turin told just-auto.

“It is just unfortunate, we are going through this period where we have to grin and bear it, but we are taking a firm view.”

FIOM confirmed it had called for strike action and that its general secretary would address members.

“In Termini Imerese there will be a strike and demonstration [and] our general secretary will make a speech in front of the workers,” a FIOM spokesman in Rome told just-auto.

“They are striking because they don’t agree with the company’s plan that is better to close the plant.”

A statement from FIOM’s National Coordination body also released further details on the reasons for the strike and cited Fiat’s decision to “distribute hundreds of millions to shareholders and increase payments by 40% to top executives.”

It also called for the opening of negotiations on what it said were the “industrial and employment prospects of the Group related to the creation of two companies Fiat Auto and Industrial.”