The Italian government, following local labor unions, has rejected the new industrial plan presented by ArcelorMittal Italia for the Taranto-based steelmaker formerly known as Ilva. “Over time, we understood that the abolition of the criminal immunity was a pretext to return the plants,” said economic development minister Stefano Patuanelli, according to reports from the unions with which he held a video conference on the morning of June 9. According to the minister, the proposal presented by ArcelorMittal is unacceptable because it impacts both employment levels and the investment plan, extending the time period excessively. “Certainly the Covid emergency has affected the global economy, but the agreement of March 4 was a starting point. There is a contract [to be respected] and also a union agreement,” said Patuanelli. The Italian government aims at “maintaining full employment”, not only for the 10,700 workers of the group, but also for those under Ilva in extraordinary administration.
Italian economy minister Roberto Gualtieri who also participated at the conference judged the plan to be inadequate. “It is evident that Covid exists and it is therefore legitimate, compared to a previously defined schedule, to take into account such an event: but it is equally true that this plan goes far beyond a simple adaptation of the previous plan to the circumstances,” said Gualtieri. Furthermore, the new plan does not take into account the fact that at European and national level “there is a strong push for investments that will create steel demand,” the minister underlined. Gualtieri added that the Italian government is willing to take into account the impact of Covid-19 in putting its proposal on the table. However, “we are talking about something very far from what [ArcelorMittal] has presented to us”.
Finally, minister Patuanelli declared, “The Taranto factory cannot be used like an accordion, that is, when things are good it produces and when things are not good production is reduced – also because ArcelorMittal does not have Taranto as its only plant.”
The new industrial plan presented by ArcelorMittal provides for approximately 5,000 redundancies in total and a production of 6 million mt of steel per year at least until 2025. In addition, it entails the postponement of environmental investments and the request for funding and state resources. The company explained all this by claiming a “dramatic worsening of prospects” following the Covid-19 emergency.