Italian automaker Fiat appeared Friday to be softening its position concerning a decision to fire 19 employees at its Pomigliano d'Arco plant near Naples in order to comply with a court order to rehire 19 members of the left-wing trade union FIOM, suggesting it was in no hurry to press ahead with the lay-offs.
"The redundancy process has a pre-established course and time-frame," said Fabbrica Italia Pomigliano (FIP), the corporate entity set up in 2010 to run the Pomigliano plant. "Therefore there is no urgency".
The statement followed strong criticism of the decision by members of the government, trades unions and politicians, with some describing it as 'amoral' and 'divisive'.
Fiat said in a separate statement that no action could be taken within at least 45 days of beginning the redundancy process and that "the initiatives announced by Fabbrica Italia Pomigliano are generating comments that in many cases are not pertinent and inexact".
Fiat has been going through a period of tumultuous labour relations as it tries to restructure its operations in Italy, its largest market. The group did not take on any FIOM members when it set up FIP to run Pomigliano factory after a dispute with the union over the policies it wanted to implement there. FIOM successfully sued for unfair discrimination and in October a Rome court ordered its 19 workers to be rehired.