The first shipload of Fiat 500L production models has just arrived in the USA - from Serbia.

Why Serbia? Originally, Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Fiat, wanted to make it at the Mirafiori plant in Turin (readers of a certain age may remember the Fiat 131 Mirafiori, named after its birthplace). However, some Italian trade unionists, who live in the same universe once inhabited by Arthur Scargill, promised a wave of strikes, saying that the rights of the workers were being threatened by new working practices.

In 2010, Marchionne ran out of what little patience he possesses, and announced that production would move to Serbia. The result is that the Italian workers lost the prospect of making 190,000 cars a year.

Expats working in Italy say it is like going back to Britain of the late 1970s. For example, last March, there was a month-long strike of car transporter drivers. During the strike, a militant Fiat union, FIOM, called a separate strike, but found its members had already been laid off. The union then complained bitterly that it would have to delay its own strike until the first one had been settled.