ITALY: Fiat still in Italian game: Chairman

By just-auto.com editorial team | 18 January 2011

Fiat chairman John Elkann has praised the decision of the majority of Mirafiori workers to back the automaker's new working conditions deal, although media speculation is hinting the company may wish to extend it to other plants.

The FIM union said Fiat secured the agreement by a 54%-46% majority that will now allow investment in a joint venture with Chrysler at the plant.

Acceptance of the deal should now pave the way for the construction of large SUVs for distribution under both the Jeep and Alfa Romeo brands worldwide, including in the US. Fiat estimates annual production levels of 280,000 vehicles per year with the possibility of new jobs being created

"I am grateful to those who have shown confidence in the future and in Fiat - their choice opens new prospects for the men and women who work at the Mirafiori plant," said Elkann.
"The desire to remain in the game has won out - we will demonstrate in Italy it is still possible to make great cars that are appreciated around the world. Now it is time to put away the rhetoric and conflict and confront the challenges ahead of us in a  constructive manner."

However, despite the Fiat chairman's optimistic comments, Italian media reports are suggesting the Mirafiori deal could pave the way for an extension to other plants in the country.

Citing Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, the reports quote him as saying: "There is no alternative [to extending the deal to other plants]. We can't live in two worlds. I hope that, as the [new] agreements are put to the test, the workers won't want to live in the past."