ROME, March 26 Italy's prime minister said on
Thursday government representatives might meet Fiat managers and
unions to discuss the future of Pomigliano d'Arco, a factory
where workers have protested for weeks over job security.
"I just came back from a meeting with workers and union
leaders of Fiat at Pomigliano d'Arco, to whom I guaranteed
support from the government," Silvio Berlusconi said in a
television interview, referring to a Wednesday meeting.
Workers at the factory near Naples have sometimes clashed
with police during their protests. They want Fiat FIA.MI to
give them assurances about the future of the plant.
Since last year, Pomigliano d'Arco and other factories
across Italy have been suspending production for weeks at a time
to cut costs and work down their inventories of unsold vehicles
in the worst industry crisis in decades.
During these production halts, workers are sent home on
Pomigliano d'Arco's workers have been more restive than
those at other factories in Italy because they fear Fiat could
shut it down and move production outside the country where
labour costs are cheaper. The factory makes Alfa Romeo cars.
After governments across Europe introduced incentives to
encourage drivers to buy new, less polluting cars, Fiat and
other car makers have sometimes shortened the periods during
which their factories have remained idle.
A union source told Reuters on Thursday that Fiat would
reduce the time it had scheduled to shut down its Mirafiori
plant in Turin to one -- rather than two -- weeks.
Fiat had previously planned to send about 6,000 workers home
between March 30 and April 12.
(Additional reporting by Gianni Montani in Turin)
(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei; writing by Gilles Castonguay)