ITALY NEWS

New Fiat 500

Big break pending for Italian car industry

(issue no. 95/2009 / February 12, 2009)

The Italian government recently proposed a short-term emergency bailout plan to help the ailing automobile sector. The plan includes measures to boost the sales of motorbikes, home appliances and furniture.

 

The bailout, which would take effect immediately if passed, must be approved by parliament within the next 60 days.

 

If the plan is adopted, the incentives, which would expire at the end of the year, will include cash bonuses for the purchase of new, greener cars, as well as the possibility of a 20 percent tax write-off on the purchase of home appliances and furniture.

 

Italy's consumers hailed the move but argue that more needs to be done to boost consumer spending.

 

Contract to Italian firm sparks unrest

Protests end with accord favoring UK workers

 

The wildcat strikes that rippled through England in early February came to an end with a deal for English unions.

 

The protest was launched by angry British workers after Total's Lindsey Oil refinery in northeastern England awarded a 224-million-euro construction contract to an Italian firm, IREM, that would have employed Italian and Portuguese workers.

 

Workers at other plants in England immediately gave their support to the protest and joined in the demand of ‘British jobs for British workers'.

 

The days of protest attracted international media attention, and sparked a heated foreign labour debate in Italy and Britain. Prime minister of England, Gordon Brown, condemned the wildcat strikes as did the European Commission and the Italian government. Workers in the European Union must be allowed to move freely by law, Brown stressed, while Italian Foreign minister Franco Frattini asserted that ‘There is free circulation of labour in the EU-of Italians in Britain and Britons in Italy'.

 

However, workers lashed out against Brown and refused to back down. The stand-off ended when unions accepted a deal to hire British workers. Under the accord, 100 extra jobs will be created for British workers at Total's Lindsey Oil refinery in addition to the 900 Italians and 200 Portuguese workers who were originally signed on by Italian contractor IREM.

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