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Issue # 1422      5 August 2009

Trade unions at Fiat Group pursue global action

ITALY: The IMF Fiat Working Group, which involved more than 30 trade union representatives of Fiat Group workers across countries covering most of the company’s global workforce, convened on 17-19 June in Turin, Italy. The meeting took place at a time of unprecedented restructuring, the pace of which has intensified and accelerated due to the global economic crisis.

Trade unions stressed that there must be no involuntary dismissals, plant closings, spinoffs, or precarious employment or working conditions as a means to restructure. Restructuring challenges require company and coordinated government policies that fully engage trade unions from the beginning of any considered restructuring that could impact workers. All alternatives should be considered and if any restructuring does occur, it must be done in a sustainable and socially acceptable manner, say the unions. Long-term commitments, employment security and real progress towards lower carbon vehicles and transportation systems are essential.

The Working Group agreed on establishing a Fiat Trade Union Network to provide mutual support and exchange of information for purposes of defending and promoting worker and trade union rights, strengthening the organising of the unorganised and collective bargaining. A top priority is the negotiation of an international framework agreement with the Fiat Group. Such an agreement is viewed as an important tool to advance global industrial relations in response to global strategies of Fiat and its suppliers.

Increasing union membership, establishing unions at unorganised facilities and strengthening unity at national and international levels are also priorities. The Working Group emphasised the importance of such efforts focused on younger workers, those at newly established Fiat operations and those at small and medium-sized suppliers.

The Working Group expressed serious concerns about ongoing violations of fundamental workers’ rights at Sinter Metal, a supplier to Fiat located in Turkey, demanding the immediate ceasing of violations, reinstatement of unjustly dismissed workers and the commencing of collective negotiations to reach a fair settlement.

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