Gov't Says Fiat Must Keep Italy Plants if it Buys Opel

All five auto plants in Italy must remain open

Italy's government said that Fiat must commit to maintaining all five of its auto plants in Italy if it goes ahead with a takeover of General Motors' German unit Opel, reports said on May 19.

"Keeping the five Fiat plants in Italy is indispensable," Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola told Italian news agencies.

Fiat workers fear plant closures in Italy if the group manages to take control of Opel. Workers staged a demonstration on May 16 in the northern city of Turin, where Fiat's headquarters are located, to demand guarantees that its plants in Italy will be maintained.

Fiat's plans have also unnerved Opel workers who foresee possible job cuts and plant shutdowns in Germany, Italy, Belgium and Britain.

Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne met on May 19 in Frankfurt with the head of the powerful IG Metall union, which is firmly opposed to a Fiat takeover of Opel. A union spokeswoman later said Marchionne had asked for the meeting, adding that the items covered would remain confidential.

Marchionne on May 15 said he would do his best "to guarantee the greatest number of jobs in Italy" and pledged to confer with government and labour representatives once his takeover talks with Opel are completed.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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