ILVA workers strike Wednesday to protest closure deadline

Blueprint for upgrades to be announced Thursday, Clini says

ILVA workers strike Wednesday to protest closure deadline

(ANSA) - Taranto, October 11 - ILVA employees in the Southern Italian port city of Taranto continued their week-long demonstrations on Thursday to protest a court-ordered closing of some of the troubled steelwork plant's divisions to pave the way for an environmentally-friendly upgrade process. The protests coincided with a court-set deadline today for the initiation of the closures of environmentally-damaging operations. The protests were organized by the Fim and Uilm trade unions. The three court-appointed custodians of the company are now in charge of the process and will inform the tribunal of any issues arising with the closing down proceedings, according to information provided by state prosecutors. Separately, Italy's Environment Minister Corrado Clini announced that the blueprint for the environmental upgrade process, the so-called 'Autorizzazione integrata ambientale per l'ILVA di Taranto' would be announced on Thursday. Clini said the measures would be the "most stringent ever applied to a steelworks company". ILVA has now for many months been at the heart of a major industrial and environmental dispute that filled Italian headlines when a court in the port town of Taranto ordered the shutdown of its smelting facilities and mineral park in July, saying the steelworks was the source of an ongoing environmental disaster. The court accused ILVA of emanating fumes of toxic dust and other emissions that threatened the health of nearby residents. The court-ordered partial shutdown has sparked months of worker protests, strikes and a flurry of meetings between government and business leaders to find a way to save the plant, which is considered crucial for Italian industry and an important source of employment in Italy's underdeveloped south.

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