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Elkann and Fiat leave Italian employers' federation

By Giulia Cambieri

John Elkann, chairman of Turin-based car manufacturer Fiat and fifth-generation of the business's founding Agnelli family, has resigned as deputy-chairman of Italian employers’ federation Confindustria.

His announcement follows Fiat’s decision to end its membership of the business lobby from January 2012 over employment issues.

Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said in October that the company’s presence in Confindustria – whose most important function is to negotiate collective working contracts with the country’s labour unions – was no longer able to guarantee the group’s “operational flexibility”.

“Fiat is committed to creating a huge industrial group with 181 plants in 30 countries,” he wrote in a letter to Confindustria’s leader, Emma Marcegaglia. “[It] cannot afford to operate in an environment of uncertainty that pulls Italy away from the conditions that exist elsewhere in the industrialised world.”

Fiat, which in 2010 had revenues of €36 billion, is one of the largest members of Confindustria. Its exit from the federation gives the company the freedom to impose more flexible labour conditions.

The company has been under the control of the Agnellis since it was founded in 1899. The family controls Fiat through the investment group Exor, which owns 30% of Fiat.