IndustriALL Global Union’s Italian affiliates Filctem-Cgil, Femca-Cisl, and Uiltec-Uil answered with a series of united actions against the plans of the energy giant Eni Group, announced earlier in July, to gravely change its refinery investment plan in Italy.
On 31 July, following a series of meetings both with the company and the Government, an agreement has been reached with Eni regarding Gela and Porto Marghera refineries, which would suffer the most should the drastic plans of the company be implemented.
According to the unions, the parties have shared a written agreement committing the company to restart the preliminary operations, particularly Line 1 of the refinery of Gela, including through the involvement of the outsourced workers, with the view to provide investment in the second phase of the conversion project "green refinery" in Porto Marghera accoring to the schedule and time stipulated in the agreements signed in July 2013 and February 2014.
Over ninety per cent of workers supported the national strike action announced on 29 July by the unions. Hundreds came in front of the Montecitorio Palace in Rome, the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, in order to protest against the plans that could have been devastating for Eni workers in Italy.
Despite the earlier proclaimed strategy and investment plan a few weeks ago Eni had announced a change in its plans regarding the Gela site, including reconversion of the site into the most technologically advanced refinery. According to the new plans the Gela refinery had to be dismantled, and a new "green-refinery" would be built. Unlike the previous one this new plan however brought at serious risk the jobs and conditions of at least 2,500 directly and indirectly employed workers and their families in the Gela region, not to mention that it could cost some 7 per cent loss of GDP to economically poor Sicily.
The refinery business in Italy and Europe and developed countries in general has been facing severe difficulties, resulting in plant closures and mass job losses. Possible consequences led the Italian workers in the whole industry to go on a two-hour strike in order to attract the attention of Eni, whose strategy according to the unions should be strongly re-focalized to face the present challenges and prevent further closures / redundancies in the refining and marketing business, as long as the Eni exploration and production business is currently generating profits.
The unions believe strongly that Eni has strong economic, technical and labour resources, and that the Italian government, as one of the Eni key shareholders, should play a positive role (within the limits of European Union rules) in order to maintain the fundamental presence of Eni in the industrial and energetic Italian context.
“IndustriALL Global Union salutes the determination and resistance shown by its Italian affiliates in getting this important result”, said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary.