Serbian plant will build successor to Lancia Musa pictured and Fiat Idea

Serbian plant will build successor to Lancia Musa pictured and Fiat Idea

Serbian labour representatives say they will maintain contact with their Italian auto counterparts as Fiat looks to move some operations to the Balkan state.

A meeting between Serbian labour organisations and Fiat's main employee representatives of FIOM was held last week as the Italian union reacted to future transfer of work from the Mirafiori plant to the Zastava factory.

"Fiat said it would close this plant and replace [it in] Poland and Serbia - that is why it is important for workers to be in contact to exchange information," Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (KATUS) representative Drjana Petkovc-Jaac in Belgrade told just-auto.

Although Petkkovc-Jaac acknowledged it was "good news" work could transfer to Serbia, she insisted employees remained "full of suspicions" as to how Italian management would proceed.

"As a workers' organisation, we don't know for example what will be [the] new measures - that is why we are interested in making contacts between each other. We are on the same side."

Fiat is establishing a joint venture with the Serbian government for the assets of the Zastava plant at Kragujevac, 140km south east of Belgrade.

Capacity at the venture - to be know as Fiat Auto Serbia - is around 200,000 cars per year but Fiat estimates it could add 100,000 units to that figure.

"The factory, which was bombed by NATO [during the Serbia-Kosovo conflict] is now being refurbished and new lines put in for new cars - the replacement for the Fiat Idea and Lancia Musa people carrier," a Fiat spokesman in Turin told just-auto.

"Those two models are currently built in Italy at the Mirafiori plant - perhaps those lines will be installed [in Serbia] some time next year. Serbia has no automotive infrastructure and we are bringing that in collaboration with the Serbian government."

Fiat will plough EUR800m (US$1bn) into the new facility.