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Fiat, government, unions agree on wage rise in Serbia-based plant

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The Serbian unit of Italian carmaker Fiat has reached an agreement with unions to increase wages following a strike that threatened to hamper the Balkan country’s economic growth, a union spokesman said on Monday.

Fiat Serbia, 67-percent owned by Fiat and 33 percent by Serbia’s government, employs around 2,400 people at its plant in Kragujevac in central Serbia. Production accounts for 3 percent of the country’s economic output and around 8 percent of exports.

Workers went on strike in June, demanding better wages and a reduced workload. The unions suspended the strike on Wednesday to allow the talks to take place.

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Fiat offered a 9.54 percent wage increase, a spokesman for Serbia’s Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions said.

“The offer by the Italians was accepted in general,” he told Reuters.

State television reported that under the deal the starting gross monthly salary would be increased to 42,000 dinars (349.53 euros) in 2017 and 2018, up from 38,500 dinars. Workers would also receive bonuses for efficiency and an allowance for public transport.

Fiat management in Serbia could not be immediately reached for comment.

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The plant manufactured 100,000 cars a year in 2015. Last year it cut jobs and reduced daily production shifts from three to two.

Serbia’s economy is expected to grow around 3 percent this year. The country relies on foreign investors, including Fiat, which in May launched three redesigned versions of the 500L, a larger version of the Fiat 500 mini car.

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