Workers stormed Europe’s biggest steel plant ILVA, which faces closure over allegations of an environmental disaster, as Italy’s government raced to save 20,000 threatened jobs.
Management closed the factory’s cold rolling facility, which produces finished steel plates, strips and pipes, after a Monday court ruling to seize the plant’s steel output, which the company said would force it to close.
A company spokesman told Reuters it was appealing against the ruling.
The case puts 20,000 jobs at risk in a region of high unemployment, and is seen as a test of the ability of the technocrat government of Mario Monti to protect Italy’s heavy industry as it tries to pull the country out of economic crisis.
Unions called a factory-wide strike over the closure of the cold rolling section at the sprawling site in Taranto, southern Italy, part of an escalating stand-off between courts and the government, which last month said ILVA could continue operating on condition it cut emissions and cleaned up the plant.
Workers who turned up for work on Tuesday morning found the gates locked, and several thousand stormed the facility and began a sit-in, angrily confronting plant manager Adolfo Buffo as he attempted to calm the situation.
“There are those who have worked here for 30 years who would never have imagined such a dramatic evolution of the situation,” said the secretary of metal workers union Uilm, Rocco Palombella. “There is anarchy in Taranto.”
Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from