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Italian unions concerned over possibility of Stellantis production reductions

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The maker of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep and Maserati told Italian labor unions this week it has no intention of reducing production at plants in the country, though the commitment has not dissuaded the unions' concerns, the organizations said in a statement Friday.

The meeting held on Thursday in Turin kicked off regular contact between Stellantis NV and its union partners. The transatlantic automaker is in the midst of developing a strategic plan for its future following its January merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French automaker Groupe PSA. Stellantis, experts say, must address its underused capacity in Europe — particularly in Italy.

The Melfi Assembly Plant produces the Jeep Compass for Europe.

Of particular concern, the unions noted, was about potential downsizing of operations and labor reductions in Melfi, where the automaker produces the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X SUVs, which are made for North America and Europe, and the Jeep Compass, which is not shipped overseas. In January, the plant was running at 57% capacity, according to forecaster LMC Automotive. 

The union requested the ceasing of "unilateral management we are witnessing in recent weeks," though it noted Stellantis management reaffirmed commitments to industrial plans presented in 2019 and that it has no intention of reducing capacity in Melfi or the rest of Italy.

Stellantis "rather imagines actions aimed at tackling the sharp decline in market demand," FIM, FIOM, UILM, FISMIC, UGLM, AQCFR unions said in the statement. "However, it did not dispel all our doubts and fears, which we will deepen in future discussions both locally and nationally."

The automaker did not have a response to the statement, instead stating that the meetings with the unions are meant to build a sustainable future for Stellantis in Italy.

"It is of utmost importance," Stellantis spokeswoman Andrea Pallard said in a statement, "as Stellantis manufacturing base in Italy is and will remain strategic."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble