Fiat SpA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the Italian automaker will not reverse a controversial decision to close a plant in Sicily, arguing the European auto industry needs to slash capacity without government interference.
Marchionne, who was the keynote speaker at an industry event in Detroit on Wednesday, was interrupted twice by protesters as he delivered a somber overview of the problems still facing established automakers even after a financial crisis that sent Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy last year.
One man repeatedly shouted “Shame!” in Italian before being escorted from the room by security. Other protesters released a banner tied to helium balloons in the downtown ballroom.
Marchionne, who also heads Detroit-based Chrysler, said Fiat had nothing further to say to workers who have taken a series of industrial actions to protect jobs at a Sicilian production site known as Termini Imerese.
The plant is scheduled to close after 2011.
“We have decided to shut down a plant in Sicily,” Marchionne said. “That decision is irreversible.”