Fiat again halts Atessa, its only functioning assembly site in Europe

MILAN (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) has again halted its Atessa plant in Italy due to disruptions in parts supply linked to the coronavirus outbreak, after it was reopened on Tuesday, a union representative said on Wednesday.

Located in Abruzzo in central Italy, Atessa was the automaker’s only functioning assembly plant in Europe after the group said on Monday it would halt production for two weeks at most of its European facilities to help to protect staff and adjust to a slump in demand..

Gianluca Ficco, of UILM metal mechanic union, said the company had informed workers’ representative of its decision to close the plant.

“We know it will be closed until Sunday, due to lack of parts supplies,” he said.

A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler (FCA) confirmed the plant was halted on Wednesday and that it was expected to restart operations on Monday.

The Italian American automaker and the other two Detroit rivals, General Motors (GM.N) and Ford (F.N), agreed on Tuesday with the U.S. union UAW to curtail production at U.S. factories and limit the number of workers on the job at one time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among roughly 150,000 factory employees.

Atessa was reopened with reduced production rates on Tuesday after being halted last week as the company performed deep cleaning and some reconfiguration of production lines to allow more space between workers.

The facility is operated by Sevel, a joint venture between FCA and France’s PSA-Peugeot (PEUP.PA). It usually produces about 300,000 light commercial vehicles annually and employs about 5,000 people.

Among parts makers which have stopped supplies, Ficco quoted Germany’s Isringhausen, which also operates a plant in Atessa supplying seats to Sevel.

Isringhausen’s workers in Atessa are currently on strike over the implementation of anti-virus health measures at their plant.

The FCA spokesman also confirmed the stoppage was partly due to disruptions in parts supply from local manufacturers, including Isringhausen.

Ficco said that at the reopening the Atessa plant was compliant with health requirements set by the government, but that workers were still worried about possible virus contagion.

“Like in every manufacturing plant, there is a huge fear among workers about contagion,” he said.

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