Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of parent Fiat SpA, who owns now US automaker Chrysler has opted to shift his labor strategy in Italy.
While the CEO has a good relation in the US with unions – which ceded much ground in the wake of the latest financial crisis and Chrysler’s bankruptcy process, his relations with home based unions have been strained, as he fights to implement in Italy new strategies and buoy productivity.
Now, as the company signals a luxury shift at its Italy home base – boosting ahead of the mainstream namesake brand the likes of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, it also looks like Marchionne is changing his mind about labor relations.
So much, that he made a surprise trip from the US to Italy to appease a labor dispute at the Maserati SpA car plant in Grugliasco, near Turin – as workers threatened the executives with a strike.
“This meeting showed how important the Italian plants are becoming to Marchionne’s new strategy,” said Roberto Di Maulo, head of the Fismic union, one of the largest representing Fiat’s 62,500 workers in Italy. “Italian car workers have suffered for years.”
Marchionne reversed a decision that would have added to the production staff no less than 500 new workers – actually laid-off workers from Fiat’s main plant at Mirafiori. The CEO also has the difficult task to settle wage negotiations with the employees at Maserati, as the brand – together with its luxury stable mate Ferrari – has tripled deliveries so far this year.