Marchionne says Fiat committed to invest in Italy

Automaker to produce Maserati SUVs in flagship plant

Marchionne says Fiat committed to invest in Italy

Turin, September 4 - Automaker Fiat will continue to invest in Italy, including production of a Maserati SUV at the company's plant in Mirafiori, chief executive Sergio Marchionne said Wednesday. Fiat confirmed its decision by signing a contract with seven unions on flexible work rules. "Fiat decided to continue with the program of investment in Italy, despite the precarious economic and political context in which we are operating," Marchionne said in a letter to employees. Now, he said, is the point in the life of the company when "bold decisions" are demanded. Earlier this week, Fiat had questioned its future in Italy after a constitutional court ruling that required the manufacturer to accept representatives of the metalworkers union FIOM that refused to accept company contract terms. The contract signed Wednesday at Mirafiori continues the same flexible work rules that are in force at four other Fiat plants. Production of the Maserati is slated to begin next year for release in 2015. Fiat has been engaged in a long tussle with the left-wing FIOM union over its drive to introduce more flexible working practices in Italy to make the plants profitable. Marchionne told union representatives that 5,300 workers at Mirafiori would be temporarily laid off in October and put on CIG benefits while production lines are made ready for it to produce the Maserati SUV model. Rocco Palombella, the secretary general of the UILM union, said Fiat had pledged to invest just under one billion euros in Mirafiori. Ferdinando Uliano of the FIM union said the carmaker also planned to produce another model at Mirafiori in addition to Maserati SUV, while stressing that the company had not said when this would happen.

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