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'Italy must have a big car industry' Squinzi tells the House

Fiat CEO to meet with premier over investment volte-face

20 September, 17:28
'Italy must have a big car industry' Squinzi tells the House (ANSA) - Rome, September 20 - The head of Italy's industrial confederation Confindustria told the House on Thursday that the country's large-scale automotive industry was indispensable ahead of a meeting Saturday between Premier Mario Monti and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. "It's a very important meeting," Giorgio Squinzi said. "Fiat is an important piece of Italy's manufacturing industry. A big country cannot lack a big automotive industry". Sparking alarm among trade unions and policymakers, Fiat said last week its 2010 Fabbrica Italia plan to invest 20 billion euros in facilities in Italy over five years was no longer valid given the current economic climate, prompting the premier to call a clutch meeting with Marchionne Saturday. "It will not be a monologue but a dialogue, and it will be intense work," said Labor Minister Elsa Fornero. Laid-off Fiat workers planned a picket line outside a shuttered plant at Termini Imerese in Sicily to coincide with the meeting. "Termini Imerese must enter the agenda of the meeting with Monti and Marchionne," said Roberto Mastrosimone, secretary of the FIOM workers union. "The workers are tired of meetings and roundtables that up to now have led to any meaningful results". Former Fiat manager Carlo Callieri came to Marchionne's defence Thursday, arguing that the CEO deserved credit for saving the company upon taking the helm in 2004 and making it profitable. "Marchionne deserves credit for saving Fiat," he said in an interview with Italian weekly l'Espresso. "Without him, today we wouldn't be talking about jobs at risk for the simple fact that they would have already been eliminated a while ago". He went on to say there was "nothing strange" about the decision to back away from the Fabbrica Italia investment plan, which was made "in a completely different economic climate from today".