Genoa - The ILVA group will lay off 5,000 workers in Italy: 4,984 from the Taranto plant, where 10,974 are employed in the integrated steelworks, and 80 (in other words everyone) at the logistical centre in Marghera, where the product from Taranto is unloaded and loaded onto ships. ILVA released its figures to the unions yesterday, confirming the leaks reported by Il Secolo XIX. As of now, the commissioners have not spoken of redundancies, but rather of “workers who will be placed on temporary leave and will receive wage guarantees starting in March,” the month when the last set of solidarity contracts which covered 3,000 workers will expire. But that is enough to arouse the anger of the union, which is asking for a meeting to be called immediately including government representatives. In union circles and at the factory, it was thought that with annual production fixed at six million tonnes of steel, a significant share of the over 10,000 workers at the steel plant in Taranto would be laid off. What the unions cannot accept is that less than two weeks away from the deadline for submission of acquisition offers from AcciaItalia and Am Investco Italy, the company would “move forward with the dirty work.” The two companies that are competing to lease the group’s assets must submit their offers with the associated industrial plans (and therefore production and employment figures) by 8 February.
FIM, FIOM, UILM and USB of Taranto “are returning to sender” a proposal that they complain “could have unknown outcomes in terms of the protection of employment levels at a very delicate moment with the sale of ILVA’s productive assets around the corner.” They also said that “the discussion meeting should be transferred to the Ministry to look for a concrete resolution that protects the employment level and the workers’ income.” Sources close to the matter suggest that “the government and the company are working to maintain the same income level called for by the previous agreements,” in other words, the conditions guaranteed by the current solidarity contracts. But the union sees the fault upstream, in the group’s attempt to shape negotiations that have not yet begun. “It’s unthinkable,” said Rosario Rappa, the National Secretary of FIOM, “that on the eve of the submission of the environmental, industrial and employment plans from the groups, the commissioners would preordain unacceptable numbers of layoffs for ILVA’s future employment and production capacity, in an attempt to do the dirty work in advance.”
In short, the case of ILVA as an employment and social problem in Taranto, is blowing up. In this tense situation, the Genoa and Novi Ligure plants can at least breathe easy: for the moment, there are no plans for any layoffs. “We have 1,555 employees, of which 1,150 are in the factory and 400 are involved in socially useful work that are covered up to the end of September,” Armado Palombo, the coordinator of the joint union representation through FIOM at ILVA in Cornigliano, explained, “The layoffs won’t affect Genoa or Novi, where the plants are working at 80% capacity at about three tonnes of steel per year that comes here from Taranto.” The problem in Genoa is with investments: Palombo said that the lines as they currently operate can handle as much as “3.5 million tonnes per year - no more. Concerning the investments planned in the programme agreement, the new production line for tinplate has not been built. There is a market for the tin, it brings in margins and will make it possible to use the entire nominal labour force, but a €120-million investment is needed: for us this is the critical issue regarding the industrial plans from the groups.”