Fiat fires 19 to fulfil court order to hire union workers

Carmaker ups stakes in dispute with left-wing FIOM

Fiat fires 19 to fulfil court order to hire union workers

Turin, October 31 - Fiat upped the stakes in a long-running industrial dispute on Wednesday when it said it had to fire 19 employees at its Pomigliano d'Arco plant near Naples to comply with a court order to hire members of the left-wing trade union FIOM. This month a Rome court ordered the carmaker to hire the FIOM members after they successfully sued for unfair discrimination. Fiat did not take on any FIOM members when it set up a new corporate entity to run the Pomigliano factory in 2010 after a dispute with the union over the policies the company wanted to implement there. Fiat, Italy's largest private employer and biggest industrial company, has been going through a period of tumultuous labor relations as it tries to restructure its operations in Italy, its largest market. The Pomigliano plant is where the company builds the newest version of its Panda sub-compact, which was previously produced in Poland. In order to improve its operations' efficiency, the company has abandoned traditional wage and labor agreements, taking a more forceful approach to unions, closing some Italian facilities and shifting production to countries with lower labor costs. "The company is committed to finding the solution which allows it to respect the order while creating the least possible difficulties to those employees who have shared its project (for Pomigliano) and who, with great enthusiasm and spirit of collaboration, have been the protagonists in the launch of the new Panda," read a Fiat statement. "The company has for some time stressed that its current structure is oversized with respect to the demand from the Italian and European markets,' said the company, adding that it has already had to rely on temporary layoffs recently at the plant because of low demand and will do so again at the end of November.

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