19 December, 2014Unity and determination from Italian unions has brought an end to one of the longest and most difficult labour disputes at Acciai Speciali Terni (AST), a steel factory owned by the multinational German group, ThyssenKrupp, located in Umbria, Italy.
Over a three-day vote from 15 to 17 December, AST workers voted by an 80 per cent majority to approve the agreement negotiated by their union representatives and the company management.
The extraordinary mobilizations and series of protests held by AST workers and their unions, IndustriALL Global Union affiliates FIM-CISL, FIOM-CGIL, and UILM have been critical in resolving the dispute.
A 40-day strike by AST workers had a huge impact on the negotiations and resulted in the company revising its plans to considerably reduce stainless steel production at its Terni facility where 2,398 workers are employed.
The plan would have led to the stoppage of one of two furnaces and at least 575 workers could have been made redundant, with many more affected indirectly.
As part of the agreement, the company will keep both furnaces running for at least four years with the guarantee to maintain current production volume of one million tons per year. The company also foresees substantial investment in the AST facility.
Although some staff will be released strictly on voluntary basis, the fundamental clause about safeguarding workplaces is resolved in the interests of workers.
The unions are continuing to negotiate on behalf of workers employed though third-party companies.
Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary praised the results of the vote by AST workers, “We salute determination and militancy of our Italian brothers and sisters, this victory is another proof that that unity and decisiveness are the most important parts of our union strength and success."