New company agreement at Fiat to safeguard production in Italy

In September 2013, Italian car manufacturer Fiat agreed a new investment plan with unions for the company’s Mirafiori plant in Turin. In a joint statement both parties have stressed the importance of this company-level agreement for the Fiat group, saying that it is a critical tool for the qualitative and productive re-launch of Italy's Fiat plants. The unions have confirmed their commitment to the agreement and acknowledged that it was the only way to keep Fiat production in Italy.

Background

Following the signing of a new company agreement (IT1102019I, IT1007029I, IT1111029I), the Fiat Group withdrew from the collective bargaining framework for the metalworking industry, which had been in effect since 1 January 2012.

Fiat's company-level group collective agreement was renewed on 8 March 2013 after seven months of negotiations. The agreement covers around 86,000 workers and introduces a reference wage increase of €40, an hourly ‘productivity incentive’ (which replaces the ‘competitiveness bonus’), and a reorganisation of health benefit plans.

After the renewal of the agreement in March, the company declared it was ‘satisfied about having achieved an economic agreement in such a moment of deep crisis’.

Trade unions said they were happy with the agreement. The Secretary General of the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Fim-Cisl), Giuseppe Farina, said this was ‘a good agreement for Fiat workers’, giving them wage increases in a time of financial crisis.

The Secretary General of the Union of Italian Workers (Uilm-Uil), Rocco Palombella, described it as ‘a necessary, honest and effective agreement. We are happy to have signed it with Fiat, as it responds to the needs of about 80,000 workers in the group.’

The Federation of White-collar and Blue-collar Metalworkers, affiliated to the General Confederation of Italian Labour (Fiom-Cgil), did not sign the agreement and criticised the renewed one. The Secretary General of Fiom-Cgil, Maurizio Landini, claimed that Fiat ‘continues to shift onto workers the costs of the crisis and of its productive choices; it closes plants down, it lowers workers’ wages and doesn’t indicate the way out of the crisis’.

New investment

In September 2013, signatories from Fiat and from the unions – Fim-Cisl, Uilm-Uil, the Autonomous Trade Union of Metalworkers and Related Industries (Fismic), the General Union of Italian Workers, Metalworkers (Ugl Metalmeccanici), and the Middle Managers and Supervisors Association (AQCF) – published a joint statement (in Italian, 87.5KB PDF). They describe the agreement renewed on 8 March 2013 as a critical tool for the 'qualitative and productive' re-launch of Fiat’s production plants in Italy. The unions confirm their commitment to defend and strengthen the agreement, and acknowledge it as a necessary step to keep Fiat production in Italy. They also call on Fiom-Cgil, which refused to sign, to accept the rules set out in the agreement.

The statement confirms that, as a result of the mutual commitment to the agreement, there will be a new investment plan worth €1 million for Mirafiori, guaranteeing employment levels and making it the production platform for Fiat's top-of-the-range cars.

The statement says further investment would depend on an extension of the extraordinary Wages Guarantee Fund (Cigs). The Cigs fund is intended to handle 'severe situations of labour surplus' and it subsidises the wages of workers laid off or whose hours have been reduced while a company restructures. On 9 September the unions and Fiat signed a memorandum for a one-year extension to cover reorganisation of production between 1 October 2013 and 28 September 2014. From 1 November 2013, the Wages Guarantee Fund will apply to not only the 5,000 workers at Mirafiori, but also to the 1,000 workers at Fiat's Grugliasco plant. This is linked to the ongoing transfer of the high-end marque Officine Maserati to the Fiat Group, which will lead to the construction of a single production unit encompassing both the Mirafiori and the Grugliasco plants.

Fiat's Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, in a letter sent out to all Mirafiori workers, declared that ‘it has been a brave choice to continue investing in Italy, despite the precarious conditions of the economic and political context of the country’. He also argued that this must be considered ‘an act of courage against decline and of trust in the future’.

Commentary

The agreement confirms Fiat’s ‘willingness to safeguard the company’s productive structure in Italy, despite the market crisis severely hitting the country’.

Raffaele Bonanni, Secretary General of Cisl, said that the joint statement is relevant to all Fiat workers because it is the outcome of positive industrial relations.

Luigi Angeletti, Secretary General of Uil, has said the agreement is an excellent achievement even though the restructuring of production at Mirafiori, starting in the coming weeks, will have to be supported by an extension of the Wages Guarantee Fund.

The Secretary General of Uilm, Giovanni Centrella, acknowledged that Fiat has once again demonstrated its commitment to Italian workers and production plants.

Fiom-Cgil, however, remains strongly critical of developments at Fiat and Federico Bellono, the Provincial Secretary of Fiom-Cgil in Turin, has said that because no details about further investments have yet been disclosed, Fiat should be offering more information and transparency.

Lisa Rustico, Università degli Studi di Milano

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