January 13, 2017 / 5:19 PM / 3 years ago

Engine workers fear layoffs from Fiat Chrysler emission woes

MILAN (Reuters) - Workers at the plant that produces most of the engines that are the focus of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) diesel emissions accusations against Fiat Chrysler fear the probe may put some of their jobs at risk, union officials said.

The VM Motori plant in Ferrara, northern Italy, was already forced to put some of its 1,300 workers on temporary layoffs last year after demand for diesel engines dropped following the scandal that engulfed Germany’s Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE). Unions fear a similar fate following the accusations against FCA.

The EPA on Thursday accused FCA of illegally using hidden software to allow excess diesel emissions to go undetected, resulting in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Regulators said FCA failed to disclose engine management software in 104,000 U.S. 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0-litre diesel engines.

“A big part of engines produced at the plant are fitted into the Jeep and Ram vehicles in the U.S.,” said Michele De Palma, head of the auto sector workers at the FIOM union.

“The Volkswagen case and lower demand from the States has already hit the factory and now there is the risk the situation will worsen.”

FCA, which owns VM Motori, the engine manufacturer that runs the Ferrara plant, declined to comment.

Reporting by Stefano Rebaudo, writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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