di Riccardo D'Andrea
Carbonia, November 13 - Alcoa aluminum workers clashed with police in anti-riot gear on Tuesday at the entrance to an ex-mine and mine museum in the depressed Sulcis area in southwestern Sardinia, where highly ranked representatives of the Italian government are attending a series of institutional meetings with local and regional government heads. The Alcoa workers broke fencing at the Great Serbariu Mine, shouted slogans against the US aluminum giant and lobbed firecrackers before the arrival of Territorial Cohesion Minister Fabrizio Barca, Industry Minister Corrado Passera and Passera's deputy Claudio De Vincenti. The state government representatives are to sign an accord on Tuesday with the Sardinian governor, Ugo Cappellacci, defining a protocol for the economic development of Sulcis, a province that suffers the highest youth-unemployment rate in Italy and is one of Italy's poorest areas. The Alcoa workers are employees of the troubled aluminum smelter in Portovesme, which shut down the last of its cells on Thursday, November 1, in the wake of a decision to power down the plant that has pitted workers against the Italian government and the American aluminium company. The smelter, which employs hundreds of people in the area, is now technically at a standstill, but Alcoa has promised to keep all workers at its Portovesme plant employed through the end of the year.