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MILAN, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Italian car maker Fiat will reach full employment of its work force at Italian plants in the next three to four years, its chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, said on Thursday.
"With new investments in three-four years we will have full employment of our workforce in Italy," he said speaking at a business conference in Milan.
On Tuesday, the company said it had asked the Italian government to approve a special lay-off scheme at its Melfi plant in southern Italy so the company can restructure it before production of new models starts.
Government spending cuts and high unemployment have squeezed consumer budgets and sent demand for cars plunging across Europe where the industry already suffers from overcapacity.
Like other car makers, Fiat, which controls U.S. carmaker Chrysler, has been hard hit by Europe's debt crisis. Last year car sales in Italy slumped to their lowest level since 1979. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, writing by Francesca Landini, editing by Danilo Masoni)