(Reuters) – Fiat (FIA.MI) should keep its pledge to boost Italian car production, a newspaper cited the labor minister as saying, after the company said last week it would move production of some of its models to Serbia.
The Italian government has summoned Fiat and trade unions for talks on July 28 after Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne made the surprise announcement on Wednesday he planned to shift production of the successors to the company’s Multipla and Lancia Musa models to Serbia from its Mirafiori plant in Turin.
“We will ask Fiat, in a context of industrial cooperation, to guarantee full production at its plants, including Mirafiori,” Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi was quoted as saying in an interview with Il Messaggero daily on Sunday.
He said the issue at stake was more than just the fate of Mirafiori but also impacted “the future of our country with regard to its capacity to remain a manufacturing base.”
“What matters to us is that Fiat’s international dimension does not damage Italian plants,” he said.
Fiat declined to comment on the report.
Mirafiori, Fiat’s biggest plant in Italy, employs some 5,800 workers and also produces the Punto van and the Alfa Romeo MiTo.
As part of an 8 billion euros ($10.30 billion) investment plan through 2011, Fiat has just committed to bring production of its Panda small car from Poland to its Naples plant, which is currently running at one third of its capacity, and to invest 700 million euros in the area.
The Naples deal came at the end of lengthy talks with trade unions about new flexible working conditions aimed at boosting efficiency and ability to compete in the auto market.
Marchionne has said there could be changes in labor accords at its other sites in Italy after the Naples deal, which was rejected by one of five trade unions.
There was also speculation on Saturday over a possible Fiat proposal to set up a new company to employ those workers agreeing to the new deal. Fiat did not comment on these reports.
Several trade unions, including members of those who signed the Naples deal, said the proposal would be unacceptable.
($1=.7766 Euro) (Editing by Karen Foster)