Summit is not enough in the ministry, Portovesme workers at night by the chimney

Night of protest for Portovesme srl workers in Portoscuso that just ended. The four of them barricaded a hundred-metre-high chimney since Tuesday morning and remained there after dark. In parallel with this, other colleagues are constantly in front of the factory gates. The protest stems from the start of the dismissal procedure while temporary workers are at home. High energy prices put Glencore, the multinational that controls the plant, into crisis. Therefore the procedure cig.

“We have no intention of going down, we want concrete facts. We have enough food to stay here forever,” say the workers, who wear sleeping bags and tents to protect themselves from the cold.

In the face of the sensational protest of the workers, politics awoke. Italian Minister of Enterprise and Made in Adolfo Urso met with Undersecretary Fausta Bergamotto, Sardinia Region representatives, local institutions, companies and social partners on Friday, 3 March at 10 am. “Despite the call for the summit to the ministry, we have no intention of going down – the workers replied – we do not trust the videoconference summit. We stay here, we want concrete facts. We have enough food to stay here to the bitter end”.

Portovesme workers barricaded the chimney

“February 28 was the date when technical-legal solutions had to be submitted to interrupt the procedure to shut down 80% of company operations with the closure of all departments and the San Gavino Monreale refinery,” the four supported workers recall. On the second day of the strike, they were protested by their colleagues in the permanent assembly at the gates and by the contractor companies.

There was a debate on the political front. Vannia Gava, Deputy Minister for Environment and Energy Security, recalls “his duty to provide quick and concrete answers”. Centre-left and M5S attack the government. “With the budget law – says Pd MP Silvio Lai – we raised the energy issue in Sardinia, which is excluded from VAT reductions because there is no methane. But the government irresponsibly rejected our changes”. Pentastellate vice president Alessandra Todde raises the dose: “While Portovesme srl has been denouncing a situation linked to unsustainable energy costs to keep production for months, the Sardinia Region has had privileged contacts with a friendly government in several places and the solution is at hand. Obviously nothing has happened.” So on a note is Alessandra Todde, vice president of M5s.

Sardinia Region President Christian, on the other hand, states that “The region has facilitated the settlement of the conflict with all the tools at its disposal” and fulfills the responsibility of the company “which must do its part”.

Why are Portovesme workers protesting?

Portovesme srl is an energy-intensive plant of the Anglo-Swiss group, located in the industrial center of the same name in Portoscuso (South Sardinia). It is the only Italian producer of primary zinc and lead and employs around 1,250 people, including around 400 direct workers. It has a production capacity of 150,000 tons of zinc and 70,000 tons of lead.

Portovesme is going into a crisis in 2021 due to the high cost of energy. Hence the dismissal fund procedure, which was subsequently suspended. After a region-mediated meeting, Portovesme srl committed to withdrawing the supply of Cigs and restarting the factories, provided they could make deals with national energy companies to get electricity “at sustainable prices with production”.

By the end of October 2022, the company had confirmed its willingness to sign an extraordinary redundancy fund contract for 392 workers on a permanent basis and for an initial period of 14 weeks from October 25. As early as April 2022, the District had requested measures to reduce energy costs, which resulted in the partial blockage of some production lines and the layoffs of hundreds of Portovesme srl workers. Last July, managing director Davide Garofalo told union representatives of the plant in Sulcis that the CSR plant, where the industry produces lead, and the San Gavino plant (South Sardinia), where the metal is refined.

The unions reiterated their demand for the complete closure of the factories and stipulated a memorandum of understanding with the company, the Region, the competent ministries and local organizations to pursue a path for the possible transformation of Portovesme srl.

Source: Today IT