MILAN, March 24 (Class Editori) -- The race of the large industrial groups to support the National Healthcare System, which is collapsing due to COVID-19 emergency, is not stopping. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced the conversion of a group's factory to produce masks. This is what has been communicated by the CEO- Mike Manley- in a letter addressed to his employees published by UILM: "From today, we will start all the activities needed to convert one of our factories to the production of face masks. We are aiming at starting the production in the following weeks and reaching a production of over one million masks per month, which will be donated to first responders and health professionals". According to the details given by Gianluca Ficco, the national secretary of UILM and responsible for the automotive sector, it would be an Asian factory.
Last week, Ferrari had already expressed the intention to produce parts for ventilators' devices in its factory in Maranello. This has been also written in the letter by Manley himself: "Many of you may know that our Italian engineering and manufacturing teams together with Ferrari's colleagues are collaborating with Siare Engineering, one of the few companies which produces respirators, in order to help them doubling their productivity. Redirecting our resources to support who need them most make me proud of being part of this company."
However, the decrease in new cases in China is a possibility of optimism, as can be read in the letter of FCA CEO, "we are expecting difficult times for many of us". In addition, the CEO wanted to reassure the employees of the automotive group: "I want to ensure you that besides dealing with the most pressing duties, I am also working hard to ensure that FCA would re-emerge from this moment stronger than ever, by becoming a key point in the recovery and renovation process of the sector".
Manley has then made clear that among the measures undertaken "the most important are those which contribute to guarantee your safety. Last week we decided to extend smart working to all the employees who have the possibility to do their job remotely". The measures implemented to ensure social distance and strengthen hygiene practices in China and in Italy "have quickly become best practices in our structures worldwide", the CEO of FCA has granted.
As far as North America is concerned "the UAW and the car manufacturers of Detroit have created a jointed task force dedicated to the coronavirus emergency, in order to assess the measures needed to protect our people"; on Tuesday they visited many factories "in the south-eastern part of Michigan, in order to see the situation from themselves and receive a first-hand feedback from colleagues, to better understand what it could be done to be of help".
Together with UAW, the group decided to stop the production in all its factories in North America, as it had already done in Europe, and use this period to further strengthen the measures already taken to safeguard employees' health and security. The distribution centres will remain active only with volunteers, as Manley has declared, defining it as "a difficult decision". On the other hand, he has added "it is essential to continue supplying spare parts, so that first responders, health professionals and other carriers of key importance may be able to move and operate".
The company is working to fulfil the commitments made with its customers and car dealers. "From the launch of remote sale program in Italy to the offer of financing plans with postponed instalments in the USA, we would like to offer the greatest support to our customers and dealers", Manley has concluded.
Gianluca Ficco, the National Secretary of UILM, has appreciated the initiatives of FCA, by reiterating that the commitment of FCA represents a hope "that could be of inspiration for other great companies" (at the request of Tuscany Region, last Wednesday Prada started the production of 80,000 white coats and 110,000 masks to be addressed to the health professionals of the region); he has also talked about a high symbolical value "it is time for the great global powers to join their forces to defeat the COVID-19 epidemic, which is threatening the security and the worthy inspirations of the whole humankind", Ficco has said, by suggesting that the forced stop can be used to "get the resources needed to cope with the emergency from a health and economic point of view, in order to avoid the huge human costs of an industrial collapse".
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