May 20, 2015 / 5:14 PM / 4 years ago

Italy calls Whirlpool's redundancy plans 'disgraceful'

Boxed appliances are ready to be shipped out at the Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Cleveland, Tennessee August 21, 2013. The 1-million-square-foot production facility produces cooking products for Whirlpool's portfolio of brands. Picture taken August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Berry (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS INDUSTRIAL) - RTX12TPU

ROME (Reuters) - A plan by the world’s largest home-appliance maker Whirlpool to cut almost 2,000 jobs in Italy is “disgraceful”, the Italian industry minister said on Wednesday, after the white goods group increased a redundancy target.

Whirlpool has been in government-brokered talks for a month with labor unions over a restructuring plan it launched in April after agreeing to take over smaller Italian rival Indesit last year.

The U.S. company said on Wednesday it would cut 480 staff in Italy on top of 1,350 redundancies it announced in April. A large chunk of these will hit the poorer south of the country, where unemployment remains high.

Industry Minister Federica Guidi said she was disappointed by the outcome of the talks and the redundancy plans outweighed the benefit of 500 million euros ($555.30 million) Whirlpool pledged to invest in Italy, and the company’s plans to move some production to Italy from abroad.

The government is willing to bring the parties together for further negotiations, but only once the company has presented “credible and tangible” proposals that give guarantees to workers, Guidi said in a statement.

Gianluca Ficco, leader of the UILM trade union for the sector, said the total redundancies could come to more than 2,000 people out of Whirlpool’s current staff of 6,700 in Italy.

The plan envisages the closure of two Italian plants, one of which, in the southern region of Caserta, employs 815 people. Workers at the Caserta factory plan to go on strike on Friday.

Whirlpool says the cuts announced on Wednesday are necessary because its acquisition of Indesit doubled its administrative staff. All the job cuts are due to be carried out by 2018.

Reporting by Isla Binnie and Francesca Piscioneri; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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