ROME – Fiat Chrysler reached an agreement with unions on Thursday over steps to adopt at an Italian factory after the government eased restrictions on business activities imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Italy, the center of an emergency virus in Europe, imposed a national lockdown on March 9. Two weeks later, non-essential businesses including cars, clothing and furniture were ordered to close.
That forced Fiat Chrysler (FCA) to close Italian factories despite introducing extraordinary security measures to protect workers.
“The main points of the agreement are both the preparatory and restart phases, which will be phased and will not directly involve all FCA production sites,” said a statement by the FIM union.
The agreed steps included cleaning the place, measuring the temperature of the workers, providing safety equipment such as face masks and hand gels, rearranging the layout of the assembly, marking the floor to ensure a surprising one meter distance between workers and shifts.
UILM union head Gianluca Ficco said that production at the Sevel light commercial vehicle maker, the assembly line for Compass Jeep in Melfi in southern Italy and 500 new electricity at Mirafiori Turin, along with several processes at the mechanical plant, will be the first to restart after Rome gave the green light.
With factories closed and demand for cars virtually non-existent, carmakers burned money and pushed to re-launch operations as soon as possible, starting with the most profitable and attractive models.
“Workers’ health and safety are top priorities for the FCA … The functioning of our industrial system is fundamental for our group, but we do not recognize the insult to public safety,” the FCA said in a statement.
The union also agreed to adopt a rotating leave system to reduce the financial impact on workers’ wages, FIM said.
The third union, FIOM, said that the agreement would be effective until the end of July and that each factory needed to find “the best solution to protect workers”.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte suggested on Thursday that some restrictions could be gradually lifted, provided the spread of the disease continued to slow, but the extension of the national lockdown that would end on April 13 could not be ruled out.
(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)