Fiat workers strike in Italy over bonuses

July 13th, 2010 - 6:48 am ICT by IANS  

Turin (Italy), July 13 (IANS/AKI) Hundreds of workers at Italian car giant Fiat’s plant in the northern city of Turin walked of the job fearing the company may withhold thier bonuses for this month after it reported an 800 million euro loss in 2009.
According to workers’ unions, around 250 or 80 percent of gear box workers walked off the job at Fiat’s Mirafiori plant while sheet metal and robotics workers also staged similar strikes Monday.

“Holding meetings is not enough to convince Fiat workers. The company needs to pay them bonuses because through layoffs they have long contributed towards improving the Fiat’s group’s finances,” said the Fiom trade union’s secretary general in the Piedmonte region, Giorgio Airaudo.

Fiat workers are paid annual bonuses. A Fiat spokesman said that the part of the bonus paid this month is linked to the company’s 2009 performance, and may be zero.

The July bonus paid to workers fell by 50 percent in 2009 to 600 euros compared with 1,200 in 2008, the spokesman said.

Apart from the July bonus, workers are paid a monthly bonus of 100 euros, which does not depend on Fiat’s financial performance during the preceding year, the spokesman said.

Fiat, which employs 80,000 workers in Italy, announced in January the 800 million euro loss in 2009 due to global recession.

Thousands of workers were temporarily laid off at six Fiat plants for several weeks in February and March and the company has announced the closure next year of its Sicilian plant at Termini Imerese, which employs 1,400 people.

The Turin-based firm said last Friday it had signed a deal with unions to restructure its stumbling Pomigliano D’Arco assembly plant near Naples. Under the deal, Fiat will invest 700-million euros in the plant and transfer production of the Fiat panda model. The plant employs 5,300 workers.

Fiat wants to arrange shifts to enable the plant to operate 24 hours a day, six days a week. To achieve this, Fiat wants to shorten sick leave and reduce strikes, and expects workers to take shorter breaks and work extra shifts.

In a landmark ballot last month, 62 percent of the 4,642 workers who voted at the plant backed the radical changes to their work practices. Workers from the Fiom union opposed the plan.

–IANS/AKI

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