Italian Industry Minister Corrado Passera on Thursday criticized Fiat's decision to fire 19 workers at its biggest southern Italian plant in what it said was to make room for left-wing unionised employees a court ordered it to re-hire after they had been laid off in a jobs stand-off.
"While I don't want to discuss the merit of internal decisions, I don't like this move," said Passera on Sky television. "Fiat is a free company, and needs to evaluate the matter internally.
"Certainly it is good news that Fiat confirmed it doesn't intend to close any factories in Italy. "We will do what is possible to ensure they be active and productive, and not almost at a stand-still as they are today".
Fiat made the announcement on Wednesday after a Rome court ordered the automaker to re-hire members of the FIOM labor union after they successfully sued for unfair discrimination.
Fiat did not take on any FIOM members when it set up a new corporate entity to run the Pomigliano factory in 2010 after a dispute with the union over the policies the company wanted to implement there.
Fiat, Italy's largest private employer and biggest industrial company, has been going through a period of tumultuous labor relations as it tries to restructure its operations in Italy, its largest market.
The Pomigliano plant is where the company builds the newest version of its Panda sub-compact, which was previously produced in Poland.