March 26, 2009 / 11:34 AM / 9 years ago

Italy PM mulls Fiat, unions meeting over plant

ROME, March 26 (Reuters) - 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 reduced pay.

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)

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