Fiat’s Melfi plant to stop making the Punto in December and January image

Fiat will stop production for more than 20 days in December and January at its Melfi plant in southern Italy, where the Punto supermini is being made.

According to a company source quoted by Reuters, the automaker will place 5,000 workers in Melfi on a temporary layoff scheme on December 17 and from December 21 until January 13. The move comes as last month union officials said Fiat plans to extend production breaks at its southern Italian plant of Pomigliano by two weeks from November 26. The Pomigliano facility makes the Panda minicar.

It’s not the first time this year Fiat is sending workers home. Many of the Italian carmaker’s plants have been affected by temporary production stops, with many workers being sent home as a consequence. A reason for this is that Fiat’s Italian car plants are currently running at a capacity of 50 percent.

The automaker struggles with overcapacity and falling demand in Europe, a region where it sells most of its cars. In the first 10 months of this year, deliveries of Fiat Group vehicles in the EU and EFTA markets fell 15.9 percent, according to industry group ACEA.
During the same period, the car market in western Europe has shrunk by 7.3 percent, with Greece, Portugal and Italy being the hardest hit countries.