Italian Workers Protest Against Job Cuts After ArcelorMittal Takeover
Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal’s company ArcelorMittal has invited workers’ ire in Italy, with employees of Ilva steel staging a 24-hour strike on Oct. 9 over plans to cut about 4,000 jobs when the company takes over.
The workers held a sit-in at IIva’s site in Taranto, Puglia, where an estimated 3,300 job losses are planned, and in Genoa, where a 600 more job cuts are expected to take place.
The Am Investco takeover consortium, which consists of ArcelorMittal, Italy’s Marcegaglia and Intesa Sanpalo Bank, had told the trade union in a letter that they intend to re-hire almost 10,000 out of the total 14,000 llva workers. The letter was sent ahead of the beginning of government-mediated talks on Oct. 9.
The crux of the talk is that while the government accepted Am Investco’s bid of 1.8 billion euros to revamp the steelworks, the consortium is to guarantee that it will maintain the existing salaries, jobs and contractual benefits of employees. The consortium, however, said they want to re-negotiate these.
ArcelorMittal said it would invest 2.4 billion euros in Ilva, in addition to the purchase price. IIva, which once generated a third of Italy’s steel, was declared insolvent by a court this year.
The steel company headed by the Indian billionaire also sees resistance in Liberia, as the country heads for 2017 polls. Citizens in Yekeya are asking the next government to review the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with ArcelorMittal. They say that since the company’s operations started, no revisions have been carried out by the government, the New Republic reported. According to ArcelorMittal concession agreement, the MDA should be reviewed every five years of operation. The agreement goes as far back as 2008.
The concession is meant to benefit Liberians as companies are supposed to hire Liberians and Liberian-owned businesses for the time they stay in the country.
However, workers told Internews Women Journalist Fellows (IWJF) in Yekepa that not much has been done by the current management of the company to provide better living conditions. People within the concession area are still unemployed, and the company’s impact is almost negligible except for those residing within the company’s premises. Therefore, the need for revision of the MDA is strong. Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson, the leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, had earlier called for the revision of the concession agreement as well.
Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal is also shutting down parts of a Philadelphia-area steel plant’s rolling mill, threatening the jobs of about 150 workers. The layoffs will have “minimal impact” on customers, the company spokeswoman, Mary Beth Holdford, was reported as saying.