Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fiat CEO: Cut Wages or No Chrysler Deal

Fiat CEO: Cut Wages or No Chrysler Deal

The Obama administration's attempt to shepherd a shotgun marriage between Chrysler and Fiat appears to be in serious trouble. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is demanding major concessions from labor unions before agreeing to any deal — and is offering next to nothing in return.

Fiat is prepared to scrap the deal and look elsewhere for an international partner if the unions do not agree to match the lower labour costs of Japanese and German plants in the United States and Canada, Mr. Marchionne said in an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail at the Italian auto maker's headquarters in Turin. “Absolutely we are prepared to walk. There is no doubt in my mind,” he said. “We cannot commit to this organization unless we see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Mr. Marchionne, 56, said Chrysler workers on both sides of the border have to end their sense of entitlement if the wrecked auto maker is to have any chance of repairing itself. “The minute you talk to me about historical entitlement in an organization that is technically bankrupt, it's a nonsensical discussion,” he said. “There is no wealth to be distributed.”

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