KRAGUJEVAC

Working class doesn't go to heaven

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The car industry has been going through a crisis throughout the world and carmakers have been forced to create new car models, as well to adopt new marketing and production strategies. Fiat, like many other European multinational companies, has delocalized part of its production in Eastern Europe causing significant regional macroeconomic and social changes. Serbia, in particular, is becoming one of the most favourite destinations for delocation to the point that, for example, more than 400 Italian companies are currently operating in Serbia. One of the most significant examples is Fiat. FAS (Fiat Automobili Serbia) in the free zone Kragujeva is the main joint venture of the last few years. The Zastava Automobili plant, which before the Serbian-Bosniac conflict had 13,500 employees, was almost razed to the round during the Nato bombing in 1999. Fiat's takeover of Zastava, with its 3000 workers, and the progressive investments of other companies in Kragujevac - such as Banca Intesa, Unicredit and Fondiaria Assicurazioni which have opened Serbian branches - have been welcomed by Kragujevac population as an opportunity for rebirth.

Although Turin and Kragujevac are two very different places, in the last few years the similarities between these two cities have become more and more evident. Both former capitals and historic cities with economies based on the car industry, in recent years the two cities have struggled through a difficult process of industrial transformation, and today constitute two focal points for Fiat: Turin is the site of the historic Mirafiori plant, while Kragujevac is where the most advanced Fiat factory in Europe is located.

The high-rises of neighborhoods Mirafiori and Lingotto, built to host Fiat workers, bring to mind the socialist public housing built to accommodate workers of Zastava. In both cities, it is almost impossible to walk without meeting a worker or a former worker in the automotive industry. Moreover, in the last few years, Kragujevac, like Turin has gone through a series of progressive changes and urban developments; in the first case due to foreign investiments and the second due to the 2006 Winter Olympics.

However, Turin and Kragujevac are also two examples of a capitalist model based on outsourcing and globalization, which till now turned out to be essentially bankruptcy.

Despite Kragujevac’s strives for a capitalistic economy, hoping for an economic miracle similar to the one that occurred in Italy - particularly Turin in the 1950s and 1960s - the contrast between wealth and poverty continues to be evident. In the Balkan city the total employment is falling and many young people have been forced to emigrate. The number of workers currently employed by Fiat is very small compared to the total population, and the few who have this privilege have an average salary of 300 euro per month, which barely allows their families to make ends meet.

All this while, on the other site of the Adriatic, Fiat is gradually reducing production and hundreds of the Italian industry's workers have been laid off. "Radiografiat", a long report edited by Fiom in 2014 , shows that the Fiat Italian plants have not benefited from globalization so far. Even in the historic Mirafiori plant of Turin - symbol of the Italian economic miracle - entire production areas are abandoned and most of the employees have been laid off.

 

 

© 2017 by MARIKA PUICHER PHOTOGRAPHER

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