THE GIANT ILVA STEEL PLANT (see issue 62) employs about 12,000 people directly but has been held responsible for an environmental disaster in the town of Taranto in Southern Italy. In an attempt to balance these two considerations the Italian government came up with a plan to keep the plant open following the company’s decision to close it after a court judgement. A three-year clean-up plan will be implemented costing €2.25 billion. In the meantime about half of the workers would have been made redundant under a government wage guarantee fund applied for by the company but the trade unions have now negotiated a ‘solidarity contract’ which reduces this number to 3,749. In return the unions have accepted a reduction in hours of up to 34% but say that employees will lose less pay than under the original scheme and premiums, holidays and paid time off will be protected. The agreement will run for two years but ILVA have promised that there will be no collective redundancies at the end of this period. It also sets up a committee including members from the government, unions, local councils and environmental bodies to monitor the reclamation process.
Meanwhile members of the Riva family who own ILVA and other steelmakers in Italy and abroad have been held under house arrest as a court seized €900 million under suspicion of tax fraud. Production has been halted at family-owned plants in northern Italy employing some 1,400 workers. The National Secretary of the FIM CISL union Marco Bentivogli commented that workers were being damaged ‘that do not have any responsibility [for the case]’.