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Italian union plots to strike FCA for splurging on Ronaldo contract

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, middle, in action with Uruguay’s Lucas Torreira and Jose Gimenez during a World Cup soccer match on June 30 in Sochi, Russia. Italian champions Juventus have agreed to pay Real Madrid 100 million euros ($ 117 million) to secure the Portuguese striker for four years. Photo credit: REUTERS

MILAN — A small union has called a strike at Fiat Chrysler’s Melfi plant in Italy to protest against the huge sums of money spent by Italy’s Juventus soccer club to sign up star player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Exor, the investment holding of Italy’s Agnelli family, owns nearly 30 percent of Fiat Chrysler  and 64 percent of Juventus. FCA and Juventus are completely separate entities, each managing their own finances and operations.

Italian champions Juventus agreed on Tuesday to pay Real Madrid 100 million euros ($ 117 million) to secure the Portuguese striker for four years. Ronaldo has been world player of the year five times.

“It is unacceptable that while the (owners) ask workers of FCA … for huge economic sacrifices for years, the same decide to spend hundreds of millions of euros for the purchase of a player,” the USB union said in a statement.

Thousands of FCA plant workers across Italy have been on state-sponsored temporary layoff for years due to lack of new models. However, the company has launched a new five-year investment plan which it says should allow all employees in Italy to return to work by the end of 2022.

The independent union, which is not part of the larger, national labor confederations, does not represent many workers at Melfi. The strike will be held late on Sunday to early Tuesday, the union added.

“The owners should invest in car models that guarantee the future of thousands of people rather than enriching only one,” the union said.

FCA and Exor declined to comment.

The carmaker, whose plants churn out Jeep SUVs, sporty Alfa Romeos, luxury Maseratis and tiny Fiats, had promised to bring all employees in Italy back to work by the end of 2018, but that goal slipped as investments and product launches were delayed.

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