Former Ilva, government opens to negotiations with unions

The alternative to Mittal is also on the table

The government is open to the unions regarding the currently dark future of the former Ilva Group: announces their “full involvement” in the path with which to ensure the relaunch of the strategic Italian steel hub and the protection of employment, dispels fears about possible closures of the sites or their extraordinary administration in the event of default and fixes, by Next November 7th, a new round with Fim Fiom and Uilm. But above all, the unions report, the executive assures that on the table at Palazzo Chigi, in the event of failure of the new negotiations started with Arcelor Mittal, the majority French-Indian shareholder of the steel group Acciaierie d’Italia, there could also be a plan B, a new alternative solution to Mittal.

Thus ends, for the unions, a long day of mobilization that began with the 24-hour strike of all the Group’s workers, continued with a demonstration in Rome and ended with a summons to Palazzo Chigi delivered to Fim Fiom and Uilm just before the start of the procession. A meeting intended above all to calm the atmosphere among workers exasperated and deluded by 5 years of false starts, the joint venture ‘contract’ between Arcelor Mittal and Invitalia and the development of an industrial relaunch plan for the unions dates back to 2018 never took off while the redundancy fund now involves a total of 3,800 workers out of around 9,000 in business, to which was added, the day before yesterday, the alarm launched by the president of the Group himself, Franco Bernabè, of an almost imminent default of the group due to lack of of financial resources if the government does not intervene quickly with a new liquidity injection of around 1 billion for gas supplies, which would follow the 680 million already disbursed last January.

Of course, in the note from Palazzo Chigi released in the evening, there is no explicit reference to plan B but the unions confirm it. “The executive stated that it is also studying “other solutions than Mittal” because we need to be ready for alternatives to avoid closure and liquidation”, repeat Fim Fiom and Uilm. The Government, however, “said it was aware of the complexity of this confrontation, hoping for a solution in the shortest possible time that would be advantageous for all interested parties”, reads the note from Palazzo Chigi which arrived in the evening, thus tracing a sort of “road map ” for the future and reiterating “the will and commitment to safeguarding the plants, protecting workplace safety and achieving the necessary production levels”.

The unions are satisfied for now even if the road to a solution to the “mother of all disputes” still appears very long. But what was obtained from the meeting at Palazzo Chigi is important for Fim Fiom and Uilm. The mobilization of the steel sites of Taranto, Genoa and Novi will obviously continue in support of the negotiation until at least November 7, then the protest calendar will be updated and calibrated on the results obtained from the second round in November”.

“Palazzo Chigi not only listened to us but decided to involve us in negotiations on the future of Ilva, excluding both extraordinary administration and closure. We have a table by 7 November and we want to see first-hand the future of this strategic hub for the country because with the Mittal management that we have denounced, we risk not going anywhere”, explains Fim leader Roberto Benaglia, reporting the outcome of the meeting at Palazzo Chigi to the workers waiting in Piazza Santi Apostoli. “Of course, everything still needs to be done but we are on the right path: we ask the government to listen and take on our reasons and our proposals regarding investments, plants, safeguarding employment and decarbonisation”, concludes Benaglia.

“We have achieved the result and it will not be a one-off meeting. In fact, from today a permanent mobilization will start in the former Ilva sites at least until 7 November and until an agreement is reached to reach fundamental objectives: who owns it and who it’s that he decides inside the plants. A lot of public money has been put in so far but then it’s still the CEO who decides and governs the Arcelor Mittal disaster. The government has said it’s thinking about this. There’s still standing the hypothesis of a new negotiation with Mittal but we need to be ready and we want to negotiate on this because we run the risk of Adi telling us that they can no longer stand”, comments the Fiom leader, Michele De Palma.

Uilm leader Rocco Palombella returns to the need for the government to gain a majority in ADI. “The government must get over it: gain a majority and take over the governance of Acciaierie D’Italia given that at the beginning of the year they granted 680 million euros. There is no alternative to this, otherwise it will be a one-off negotiation lose which will then cut jobs and close plants”, he explains.

“The problem is that the government considers Mittal a normal entrepreneur. 10,000 demonstrations were not enough to realize that Mittal came to Italy in these four years and did not produce any results either in terms of employment or in terms of production, much less in terms of environmentalisation. This would have been enough to say that the conditions to move forward are no longer there. And instead the government has chosen differently and now the negotiation is even more complicated”, he continues, reiterating: “we must avoid granting Mittal further investments and stop to believe him to be an entrepreneur”, he concludes. (by Alessandra Testio)