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Authorities claim ex-FIAT plant will bounce back with more jobs but unions sceptical

 THE ITALY-BASED MULTI-NATIONAL VEHICLE MANUFACTURER FIAT-Chrysler has announced its intention to close its factory at Termini Imerese in Sicily at the end of the year. However the national development agency, Invitalia, local and regional government and FIAT all agree that the entire work force can be re-employed on site and that there will even be 50% more jobs than before if all the accepted proposals go ahead. Two of the interested companies are car producers with luxury vehicle manufacturer De Tomaso planning to hire 1,450 of the existing 1,509 workers while the Cape Reva Electric Car Company intends to employ about 1,000 staff. A total of €450 million of public funds will be spent to attract these firms as well as others in the solar and biomass energy, horticulture, media, medical appliance and logistics fields. If all seven projects are successful the new industrial area will be much larger than the old FIAT factory.
Trade unions are sceptical. however, that ‘a lot of little companies’ are an ‘affordable solution’. They would prefer to see only car production on the site in future. The FIOM metalworkers’ union described the plans as ‘a show’ and commented ‘we have not seen anything concrete about the solution’, It remains to be seen how concrete the proposals become although FIAT have said that they will only agree to lease the plant if the new investor re-hires the entire work force and that the workers will receive special help from the extraordinary wage guarantee fund in the interim. If everything goes according to plan the restructuring of Termini Imerese should provide a good example of maintaining and even expanding employment, retaining skills and encouraging innovation in ‘green’ technologies but the bottom line for trade unions as expressed by the FIOM General Secretary is that they ‘are not willing to accept the simple closure and the withdrawal of Fiat in Termini Imerese’.

Sicilian FIAT Workers show little faith in their future



Spanish social partners sign first agreement since 2006

AS EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS HAVE MADE CUTS, RAISED THE retirement age and reformed labour legislation unions have responded with strikes and demonstrations and social dialogue has been in abeyance with no agreement possible. This is especially true of Spain which has the second highest level of unemployment in the EU and where trade unions, governments and employers have been unable to cut a deal for five years. However, this year, pressures from international financial markets, which would look askance at further general strikes, led the Socialist government to bend over backwards to get the social partners on board. To woo the unions they offered a package of active labour market reforms that included incentives for employers to hire young people and the unemployed, a ‘professional requalification programme’ for people who have come to the end of their unemployment entitlement, job itineraries run by the Public Employment Service to improve employability and the inclusion of 20%-40% of unemployed workers on training organised for those currently employed. Less welcome to unions were the proposals to gradually increase the retirement age from 65 to 67 and to lengthen both the qualifying period in work to obtain the maximum amount and the period over which that amount is calculated. Even here, though, there were concessions: these measures will take between ten and fifteen years to be introduced fully and there will be incentives, in the form of an increased pension, for those who work past the retirement age, extra credits for women who take time off for birth or adoption and those on research grants and appprenticeships.
Together with guidelines on enlarging the industrial sector in the Spanish economy, encouraging innovation and reducing energy dependence, these overtures were enough to get the CC.OO and UGT trade union federations to sign up while employers were already in favour of changing labour legislation. As the first national social dialogue agreement since 2006 the deal has raised hopes that the practice has been re-invigorated but it should be noted that neither the political parties to the left of the ruling Socialists (PSOE), nor the main right-wing opposition (PP) who currently lead the opinion polls, have endorsed it.

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