This week’s truck driver strike in Italy has hit production at Fiat’s vehicle assembly and engine plants because of delays to inbound parts. The striking truckers, who began their action on Sunday in response to an 8 cent per litre rise in fuel prices introduced last month, set up blockades around the country obstructing roads and disrupting supply routes.
However, following a fatality in which a demonstrator taking part in the protest in the northern Italian town of Asti was run over and killed on Tuesday morning, latest reports indicate the blockades have been called off, though strike action will continue.
The Italian truckers union Transportounito said it was surprised by the scale of the unauthorised strike and expected it to last until Friday.
Motorways near Naples in the south, and Turin, Bologna, Genoa and Milan in the north, continue to be affected and trucks on route to Fiat’s plants are being held up. A spokesman for Fiat told Automotive Logistics that the company expected it to be between five and six days before full production at the plants, which include Pomigliano, Cassino, Melfi and Mirafiori, as well as at the Sevel Sud plant, returned to normal. If the action continues until Friday as predicted this would mean production delays reaching well into next week.
The Pomigliano d'Arco plant near Naples makes the Alfa Romeo Sportswagon while the Cassino plant at Piedimonte San Germano makes the Fiat Bravo, Lancia Delta and Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Melfi produces the Fiat Grande Punto, Punto Evo, Abarth Grande Punto and Abarth Punto Evo, while Mirafiori, near Turin, makes the Fiat Idea, Alfa Romeo MiTo and the Lancia Musa.
Sevel Sud in Atessa is a 50:50 joint venture with PSA Peugeot-Citroën and makes the Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Jumper, meaning that PSA production will also be affected.
Concern was felt by logistics providers operating in the country, though they were unable to provide any detailed assessment of the impact on their services.
A spokesman for Ceva Logistics, which provides inbound and aftermarket services for Fiat, said it was not able to outline detailed consequences of strike actions taken by truckers in the country but did comment on the wider implications for the automotive industry.
“If we consider the automotive sector as a whole, the general impact of the strike action on the sector can be considered significant, with consequences on the quality of services delivered to our customers. This is particularly true for spare parts, characterised by limited stocks, on which strike actions are impacting in a more significant way,” he said.
“Regarding possible alternative solutions, for inbound, there is no possibility to develop them,” he continued. “These activities require articulated lorries, which are facing problems due to trucks blocking strategic areas (such as areas around factories and highways). In the case of outbound services, whenever possible, dedicated means of transport are being used, but with some risks and then not always successfully."
The latest protest follows a week of similar protests by truckers in Sicily during which ports were blockaded, bringing internal trade and international shipping through the region to a standstill.