Car maker Fiat says it will do all it can to avoid plant closures in Italy.
It is a pledge that was echoed by the Italian government, after a meeting between the company’s boss and prime minister Mario Monti.
Italy, Fiat’s main market in Europe, dropped by 20 per cent in the first half of this year.
Plants have been running well below capacity and workers have been on extended periods of short-term layoffs, with reduced pay.
Some staff protested outside Saturday’s meeting in Rome.
“If they are thinking of firing us without giving us money, as the late film director Mario Monicelli famously said, ‘we are ready for a revolution,’” one of the demonstrators said.
Fiat, Italy’s largest employer, wants to keep building cars in the country while shifting its focus to foreign export markets.
With the Italian government, it says it will now look at ways of improving manufacturing efficiency.