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Italian steelworkers validate agreement with ArcelorMittal

19 September, 2018Ilva Group workers - members of the IndustriALL affiliates Fim-Cisl, Fiom-Cgil and Uilm-Uil – voted by a very large majority of 93 per cent to approve the new agreement concluded on 6 September between the Ministry of Economic Development, trade unions and ArcelorMittal.

Over the last week assemblies with participation by all the workers of the group took place. At the assemblies, workers were informed about the contents of the agreement and voted for its ratification. To a large extent, workers voted for a deal with the company, which if accepted could open the door for acquisition and immediate operation of the plant.

In total, Fim-Cisl, Fiom-Cgil and Uilm-Uil representing some 14,000 workers of the Ilva group in Italy, organized 44 assemblies at all the sites, respectively: 32 in Taranto, 3 in Genoa, 4 in Novi Ligure, and one each in the sites of Marghera, Salerno, Padua, Milan and Racconigi.

In their joint statement the unions said,

“We express great satisfaction with the result achieved, and the workers approved the agreement. 6 years after the seizure of the hot area, 12 decrees to save Ilva and dozens of strikes, with the approval of the agreement by the workers, one of the most complex disputes of our country is closed.”

According to the agreement reached, 4.2 billion euro of investments are planned for the revival of the steel industry, including 1.25 billion euros for industrial purposes, 1.15 billion euros for the environment and 1.8 billion euro as part of the acquisition. Also, the Government will use 1.2 billion euros seized from the previous owner, Riva group for a decontamination programme and environmental improvements at the Taranto site. Due to the environmental problems and following announced seizure of the resources, the Ilva group and particularly Taranto site was in jeopardy since July 2012.

The unions promised “to monitor the progress of the environmental work and the safety of the sites, starting with Taranto, and the timing of the implementation of the plan to achieve full employment as soon as possible.”

The steel company committed to initially employ 10,700 workers. The unions explained that according to the agreement there was no job cuts foreseen. Workers who are not immediately employed, or agreed to voluntary departure or redeployment programmes, would be offered employment before 2023, when the programme of decontamination is over. The remaining few thousand of excess workers will be employed through the decontamination programme.

All problems are not however solved by this agreement. On the basis of the European anti-monopoly legislation, ArcelorMittal will divest a number of its smaller European sites located in Galati (Romania), Ostrava (Czech Republic), Skopje (Macedonia), Piombino (Italy), Dudelange (Luxemburg) and Liège (Belgium).

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary says,

“We congratulate our Italian brothers and sisters with a favourable solution of this long-lasting dispute. This is a victory for all of us. We are also glad to welcome all Ilva steelworkers joining the global union network at ArcelorMittal, which will allow them to have better consulting, information and possibilities to influence policy within their company. On the other side, we urge ArcelorMittal and the European Commission to engage with the respective unions so that the rights and interests of workers at the divested facilities are fully protected.”