Genoa - There is a group of workers in the port of Genoa who are looking to the future with some concern. They are about 30 employees of the Pietro Chiesa port company, traditionally dedicated to the movement of coal. For over 100 years they have been known in the port of Genoa as the carbunè [i.e. coal workers in Genoese]. Their tradition is now threatened by the crisis, which could strike the Bulk Terminal, which has been managed since last year by the Ascheri Group.
The future of the terminal is uncertain, and Tirreno Bianchi, the coal workers’ leader, is bringing attention to this business, which is often less glamorous than other more valuable traffic in the port, like containers, refrigerated goods, wheeled cargo and passengers. Despite that, solid bulk (in addition to coal, raw materials like kaolin, wood chips, and manganese come through) represents an important part of the mosaic for a port like Genoa, which wants multifunctionality to be what sets it apart. Port Authority President Luigi Merlo has not missed an opportunity to repeat that there will continue to be a place for solid bulk in the port in the future. At the last port committee, the first scheme for the strategic plan for the port was approved. It projected a future of large ships which would make it necessary to move the eastern approach sea wall, redesign the western approach and make it truly usable, and support the naval repair sector so that it can receive the latest generation of large ships. “It is great to talk about the strategic plan for the port,” Tirreno Bianchi blurted out, “but one must also keep the Ascheri Group’s crisis situation in mind, which could also involve the Bulk Terminal. But port workers can’t live off of these major plans and proposals to redesign infrastructure. I leave those to starchitects in search of publicity.”