Italy: Fiat goes its own way
4 October 2011
"Fiat's split", headlines Il Sole 24 Ore: CEO Sergio Marchionne announced on Monday that Italy's leading car builder will break from Confindustria, the association of Italian entrepreneurs. After months of attrition, the last straw was Confindustria's decision to sideline a recent norm allowing easy firings after the general strike called last September 6th by CGIL, Italy's largest trade union.
The Confindustria owned Il Sole strongly condemns Marchionne's "political" move and advocates the need to settle with CGIL – "a 6-million strong social force, stronger than any party". Fiat's hard line on labour reform could endanger social cohesion, "a key asset for Italy's competitiveness. If we have not yet seen out-of-control indignados like elsewhere there must be a reason".
On the other side, Fiat-controlled La Stampa defends Marchionne and warns that bowing to unions' dictates equates to "choosing international irrelevance, to becoming a museum country. Italy must decide if it still wants to play a leading economic role, and it cannot defend collective rights without sacrificing those of the jobless and the young, as is sadly happening"
Anyway it's an "historic moment", according to La Repubblica: "For a century Fiat and Confidustria have been one piece. The first used to choose the second's president. A solid 'strong power' that dictated politics to governments. [...] As it walks away from Confindustria, Fiat seems set for another exit, much more relevant: an exit from Italy" that Marchionne has often threatened after his takeover of US carmaker Chrysler’s majority share. "The firm has chosen to bet everything on Detroit's table, and to deal with domestic competition only by means of production and labour cuts. Divorce is on its way".