ATESSA/TURIN, Italy, July 9 Fiat SpA
will put new investments on hold until it gets a clearer idea of
the impact of a court ruling that a portion of Italy's labour
rules are unconstitutional, its chief executive, Sergio
Marchionne, said on Tuesday.
Italy's constitutional court ruled last week that a clause
in the country's labour law from the 1970s allowing automaker
Fiat to bar the Fiom metalworkers' union from representing
workers on its factory floor violated the constitution.
Fiat is Italy's largest employer, and its billions of euros
in new investments are crucial to bolstering the country's
economy, which has been in recession for two years and suffers
from record unemployment.
Struggling Italian companies received another setback on
Tuesday when Standard & Poor's cut the country's sovereign
credit rating to BBB from BBB-minus, a move likely to drive up
LABOUR CONTRACTS IN DOUBT
Since 2010, Fiat has rolled out investments at some of its
Italian factories in exchange for concessions from labour unions
for more flexible work conditions.
Fiom did not support the new contract, and it started legal
proceedings against Fiat that led to last week's court ruling.
Marchionne said the ruling throws its labour contracts in
doubt, since they are based on rules that the court has found,
in part, unconstitutional.
"Before taking any further initiatives in Italy, we need a
clear legal and normative framework," he said, in a speech
announcing over 700 million euros in planned investment.
Marchionne said he was open to meeting with Fiom leader
Maurizio Landini to discuss what measures could be taken, based
on a common understanding that Fiat's 2011 labour contract would
not be revised.
Speaking later on Tuesday in Turin, Marchionne asked the
government to propose a solution for the uncertainty created by
the court ruling. Marchionne expects to have a better idea of
the consequences of the ruling when the court releases the
reasons for its decision.
"I am not willing to invest more risk capital in this
country if we don't know on what basis we can carry out our
labour relations," he said. "It's the government's
responsibility to ask the court for clarity."
In the meantime, Marchionne threatened to build planned new
Alfa Romeo models outside of Italy.
"We are going ahead with the re-launch of Alfa Romeo, it's up
to Italy to decide whether the cars will be built here or
elsewhere," he said.