Reuters reports that trade unions representing workers at its Melfi assembly plant have approved a program that allows the automaker to temporarily lay off workers while it restructures the facility to produce new vehicles, including a smaller Jeep model.
The announcement came from Giuseppe Giordano, regional secretary of the UGL metalworkers union, following a meeting with Fiat.
The unions’ approval means Fiat can shut down two lines at the Melfi plant as early as February 11. The Italian government still needs to sign off on the deal to ensure funds for the extended unemployment period.
The temporary lay-off scheme can run until the end of 2014, but Fiat can restart production as soon as new lines are ready, possibly reopening at the end of 2013.
Fiat is awaiting an approval by the government for the plan.
Melfi, one of Fiat’s largest Italian plants, currently builds the Punto model. Fiat Group said it would invest about $1.3 billion to produce a new Jeep and the Fiat 500X crossover beginning in 2014.