To the ex-Ilva inspection of the plants, amid the anger of the workers who ask Mise for help

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the crisis in the iron and steel industry of taranto

Production is at an all-time low and in the June paycheck, due to the IGC, employees will have around 900 euros, compared to 1,200-1,300 last year. Today the works council and then tomorrow the 24-hour strike

by Domenico Palmiotti

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Production is at an all-time low and in the June paycheck, due to the IGC, employees will have around 900 euros, compared to 1,200-1,300 last year. Today the works council and then tomorrow the 24-hour strike

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The entrance gate of the locked factory management, two Carabinieri vehicles parked in the immediate vicinity, the access road blocked by a Digos car and 80-100 workers between ArcelorMittal employees and Ilva employees in extraordinary administration who are stationed silent and resigned. Taranto, morning of June 8th. Start of a new, yet another complicated week for the steel industry. Which comes after ArcelorMittal’s presentation of the new 2020-2025 business plan to the government on June 5. Plan that provides for a drastic cut in the workforce, with 7,500 employees in the group and a production of 6 million tons. This means 3,200 redundancies among direct workers, which however rise to 5,000 including the 1,800 Cassintegrati of Ilva in extraordinary administration (1,600 in Taranto) for which every possibility of reintegration to work lapses. “It is not the plan that the government expected for Taranto and does not respect the agreement of last March,” said the Minister of Economic Development, Stefano Patuanelli in recent days, recalling the agreement between ArcelorMittal and Ilva in extraordinary administration, which provides, for the same time span, 10,700 employees (albeit fully operational, at the end of the plan, because before they would have temporarily fallen with the extraordinary layoff) and a production of 8 million tons. “Plan inadmissible,” said the unions, which on June 9 were called by video conference by Patuanelli and that on the same day called 24 hours of strike in all the sites of the group. A first decisive signal. For ArcelorMittal, however, the plan reflects a double crisis: of the steel market, which already existed, and of Covid, which caused the collapse of orders.

The general management

The voices of the factory
Upon the arrival of the Ilva commissioners on the morning of 8 June, at the factory for the planned inspection of the systems, some disputes arose from the workers stationed outside the management. Then silence. And sadness. They are in small groups, with masks on their faces or a little apart, and they wait. News. Sunny spells. However, they cannot be glimpsed. «We have been on layoff since the end of June 2019 – says one of them -. Back then, in a month, we did two weeks of cash. Since late March, however, we are completely out. The difference? That last year we took 1,200-1,300 euros per month, we are in fact shift workers and we have increases when we work, while now we take 880-920 euros per month. It depends on family loads. Those who take citizenship income perceive even more than us ». “Worried? It is saying very little – the workers say -. We have not been working for Covid since late March, now, in June, the company has applied another five weeks of Covid cash and from 6 July it will trigger another 9 of ordinary layoffs. This means that at least until the end of the year we do not work or work very little ». “They trained us, but what was the use of it since steel plant 1 stopped it?” Asked the workers. In fact, steel mill 1, as well as blast furnace 2, have been stopped for weeks together with other plants. The unions learned from the company that until a few days ago, out of a staff of 8,200, about 3,200 were on layoffs. “Fewer people work than those who in the Covid weeks indicated the prefect of Taranto for the safeguard of plants, that is 3,500”, the unions accuse. Production is at an all-time low: 7,500 tons per day. And also the company, in its plan, photographs the production collapse declaring that in 2020 shipments will amount to 3.5 million tons.

Workers in front of the factory

The nervous wait for paychecks
“We await June 10 to display the May pay slip on the company portal in the dedicated box. When more than three thousand people see a 900 euro paycheck, I don’t think this will go unnoticed, “says another ArcelorMittal employee. And there is a certain expectation for the deadline of 10 but especially of June 12 when wages are paid. Waiting because there are those who even go so far as to speculate that ArcelorMittal may not anticipate layoffs as it has always done. And therefore the cassintegrati could find themselves at zero. But there are no signs of this. The tension is still so great, the aversion of many employees towards ArcelorMittal open and manifest, and there are those who say that not even the management of the Riva, the former owners of the group, has gone so far. “The Riva, who also have responsibilities, were expelled after the investigation by the judiciary – it is commented -. And 17 years have been standing. ArcelorMittal, on the other hand, broke everything up a few months after entering, in November 2018 “.

The gates closed

The inspection of the commissioners
Around 9 am, Ilva commissioners in extraordinary administration, together with technicians and lawyers, arrived at the plant to start the inspection of the plants and areas. Since they are the property, they want to realize the state of the factory after the prefect of Taranto wrote to them and the unions have reported a series of shortcomings. The inspection was to take place as early as June 1st, then jumped, not without some controversy, to the unavailability of ArcelorMittal. The inspection, initially scheduled for four days until June 11, will actually last eight. ArcelorMittal has demanded the presence of their sector manager by sector and there are areas, such as blast furnaces, where there are three, which must be inspected individually. “The inspection in ArcelorMittal began, in the end we understood each other and found a shared procedure”, say sources close to the extraordinary administration Ilva, which represent the government and ownership of the plants. “At the beginning – sources say – organizational problems arose also because ArcelorMittal wants the area managers of the plant to participate in the inspections and there was a director straddling two areas. But then we saw how to organize things, we agreed them and then we started with the inspection “.

The works council

Strike
On the morning of June 8, the extraordinary works council also began for a situation point. In the unions it is believed that ArcelorMittal management should be closed forever “because it is clearly unreliable”. “Whenever ArcelorMittal presents a plan, it is always worse than the previous one,” they comment. The 24-hour strike on 9 June is confirmed, but sit-outs are also expected outside the steel industry. The works council ended with a joint document by Fim, Fiom and Uilm in which it is considered “unacceptable the attitude of the Government that continues to deal with ArcelorMittal, a counterpart who has demonstrated that he is an unreliable subject and that does not respect the signed commitments “. “The only certain thing contained within the industrial plan are the redundancies of the staff”, add the engineering acronyms that convene the factory council in Taranto on the morning of 10 June following the meeting with Minister Patuanelli.



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