Stellantis announces new investments on the Melfi plant, but on the other sites it does not discover the cards. And it gives no indication even on the front of the coveted gigafactory. In the meantime, however, at least, the confrontation with the government and trade unions – which the workers’ representatives had been calling for for months – has started.
The first meeting was held today, Tuesday 15 June 2021, in the offices of the Ministry of Economic Development: the company and trade union delegates were received by the home minister, Giancarlo Giorgetti, and by his colleague Andrea Orlando, Minister of Labor.
The news of the day is that, starting in 2024, the Melfi plant will produce four new multi-brand electric cars in the medium segment. Production will be concentrated on a single upgraded line, compared to the two current lines: news, the latter, which had been in the air for months. According to what emerged from the meeting, the space thus freed up will be used for other activities, such as the assembly of batteries. The production capacity should reach 400 thousand cars a year – a level that in recent years was only touched in 2015 – with a staff organization on 19.5 weekly shifts.
The indications on Stellantis’ plans in Italy, for the moment, stop here. No news on the fate that awaits the other establishments of the former FCA present on the national territory, which today make massive use of layoffs.
The company, for its part, underlines in a note that today’s meeting at Mise represents “a strong positive sign of Stellantis’ commitment in Italy” and expresses “great appreciation” for the dialogue that has been underway for some time “with the government and labor unions. “Stellantis – continues the note – is working with determination and speed to anticipate and support the energy transition of all its Italian industrial sites with the aim of guaranteeing sustainability by improving performance and making the country play a strategic role among main European domestic markets of the Group “.
Minister Giorgetti on the one hand rejoices at the news that Melfi “will be enhanced”, but on the other he seems worried: “The Government – he says – must understand how to manage this transition phase in which some supply chains will be privileged and others put at risk. It is important that there are guarantees on employment and that there are no nasty surprises. We are in a very delicate moment, the hope is that the discussion will continue in a positive, transparent and constructive atmosphere ”.
In the same vein, Minister Orlando’s comment: “We have given maximum availability to the challenge that Stellantis intends to launch in the transition process. There have been some positive indications in a positive climate. Of course, this is a process that must continue to understand the implications of these choices ”.
A big question mark at this stage concerns the gigafactory, that is, the new mega-battery factory that Stellantis has announced it wants to build in Europe. The unions and – new in recent days – now also the Government are pressing for the site to be placed in Italy, also leveraging the 6.3 billion euro loan guaranteed by the Italian state granted to FCA in 2020: sum bound to investments in the supply chain and the maintenance of employment. But the company appears to be in no hurry to decide.
“We cannot talk about a gigafactory without addressing the fundamental question of choosing where the batteries are manufactured. Decision that has not yet been taken ”, Giorgetti explains.
For their part, the unions insist on the point. “The creation in our country of a gigafactory for the production of batteries is a fundamental point that must be quickly addressed together with investments in research and development in central bodies for new technologies and new models capable of guaranteeing the full use of the plants and the full employment ”, underline in a joint note Francesca Re David and Michele De Palma, respectively general secretary and national automotive secretary of Fiom-Cgil.
For the Fim-Cisl, “Stellantis’ approach is positive”. “It is essential not to suffer the market but to enter into a logic of development and relaunch towards the challenges of the environmental transition, but which must necessarily have social sustainability at the center”, observe the secretaries Roberto Benaglia (general) and Ferdinando Uliano (national automotive ). “The government has the task of accompanying this process and must tell us which initiatives it intends to implement starting from the NRP.”
Rocco Palombella, general secretary of Uilm, and his colleague Gianluca Ficco, automotive manager, ask for “precise guarantees not only for the workers of Melfi, but for all Italian workers”. “We want a great deal with Stellantis, which explicitly excludes the possibility of closures and layoffs, which supports the income of workers and which gives production missions to all assembly and engine plants, as well as to the numerous research and staff organizations” .