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Italy, Politics, unemployment

Why Fiat prefers newspapers to cars

Fiat prefers to invest in newspapers these days, rather than car-making. And it is apparently all the fault of the unions. Giorgio Cremaschi explains

Announcing this week for the umpteenth time the investment in its Sevel plant in Abruzzo, southern Italy, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said that those investments will be the last in Italy, if constitutional rights of workers to chose which union represents them on the factory floor, were upheld.

The criptofascism of the CEO Fiat is not new, but in this case his threat also contains a lie because his company is already involved in a new investment in our country, the acquisition of a controlling stake in Corriere Della Sera, Italy’s top selling newspaper.

Imagine an assault by Ford on the New York Times, or Peugeot seeking control of Le Monde, or Volkswagen taking over Frankfurter Zeitung … Only here in |taly this happens without scandal, amid the subservience of the government and those who support it.

But why does a largely American multinational car company consider control of Milan-based RCS, which owns the newspaper, as a strategic investment?

Sergio Marchionne has stated it is so, and I imagine the same was expressed by Chairman John Elkann, a grandson of Fiat founder, the late Giovanni Agnelli, in the long telephone conversation with Italy’s President.

Why does Fiat-Chrysler, which already controls Italy third largest paper, La Stampa, consider it strategic to build a publishing empire in Italy, even as Mirafiori, Europe’s largest and Fiat’s oldest car plant, goes down the drain for lack of investment?

For the bipartisan political information regime that governs Italy this question has not been asked let alone answered. This says a lot about the comatose state of our democracy, headed by President Giorgio Napolitano who speaks on everything except on that which he should.

Fiat wants Corriere Della Sera in order to participate personally in the restructuring of Italian economic and political power being conducted by the ‘grand coalition’ government. And it is because it is investing less and less in industrial production and research that Fiat is spending more money on speculation and finance, in cahoots with the political establishment.

Already in the 1990s the Agnelli family wanted to abandon car production and began to build a second company that ranged from phones to banks to tourism. This operation failed and Fiat was saved by banks and taxpayers, but in the meantime years and money had been wasted and the company had lost a full lap in the race with competitors in strategic industrial innovation.

The great snake oil salesman, the Italian Swiss Canadian Marchionne, was able to revive the family business, through deals with governments and politics. All this for the price of a devastating restructuring in Italy, with the closure of many factories, especially in the South and with tens of thousands of workers laid off without any real prospect of returning to work. And above all, no new products, in which he’s not making investments, regardless of constitutional rulings on labour disputes.

Moreover Marchionne has repeatedly said is not the time to make investments. Unlike Europe’s most successful carmaker, Volkswagen, which is investing right now , and not in newspapers!

The more Fiat deindustrialises, the more it does deals in the salons of power in our country. The more people lose their jobs, the more it buys into the media sector. But why should Fiat do anything different if Italy is cheering him on?

The liberal La Repubblica argues it is time for industrial peace and FIOM metalworkers leader Maurizio Landini talks of putting the past behind them. I’m all for peace, but to achieve what?

Fiat continues to lay off thousands while exploiting those it has graced with work. From the industrial point of view the company has no future, but its property business is doing well and it is buying newspapers. Prime Minister Enrico Letta is silent and President Napolitano gives his consent.

If Berlusconi is the symbol of the disasters of the past ruling class, Marchionne symbolises that of the present. One that does not have anything to say about the fact that an automotive corporation closes factories and buys newspapers. Shameful.

Micromega 9.7. 2013

Translated/edited by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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