Fiat CEO probed for violation of workers' rights

MILAN Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:50pm EDT

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne poses after the presentation of the new LaFerrari hybrid car on the Ferrari stand during the first media day of the 83rd Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne poses after the presentation of the new LaFerrari hybrid car on the Ferrari stand during the first media day of the 83rd Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat's (FIA.MI) CEO Sergio Marchionne is being investigated in Italy over allegations of violation of labor rights in a long-running dispute at a factory near Naples, the automaker said on Friday.

Fiat, Italy's biggest private sector employer, said Marchionne and another group manager were notified by the public prosecutor of Nola of a preliminary investigation on Friday.

Fiat said the prosecutor's move was "the umpteenth expression of an unprecedented judiciary offensive directed by (trade union) FIOM against Fiat, for more than two years".

The dispute stems from a Rome appeals court ruling last October that Fiat must take back 19 laid-off employees who were members of FIOM and had filed a complaint alleging discrimination.

Fiat, which controls U.S. carmaker Chrysler, has denied several times any wrongdoing.

Back in February, Marchionne said the dispute at the factory had been resolved, taking the heat out of the controversial issue in the country's election campaign.

Politicians and labor leaders criticized Fiat ahead of the February vote for trying to lay off the 19 workers at the factory, in a country mired in recession.

(Reporting By Danilo Masoni; Editing by David Gregorio)

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