Rome, November 28 - Italy's Labor Minister Elsa Fornero on Wednesday expressed worry about the impact a forced closure of the ILVA steel plant in Taranto could have on the southern Italian city. "We have to make sure that in this plant, without its having to close, it is possible to restore the conditions compatible with health and that we don't send 20,000 jobs to the slaughter," Fornero said. "We can't afford it and it's not acceptable for these people". The troubled ILVA plant is at the center of a legal and political dispute which could lead to its permanent closing. The government of Premier Mario Monti is working on a decree to obtain an Integrated Environmental Authorisation (AIA) order to keep the plant operating, sources said Wednesday. Obtaining the order is necessary to help ILVA continue functioning in the southern city of Taranto, where jobs are scarce. On Tuesday, Environment Minister Corrado Clini said the government was prepared to take on prosecutors to keep the ILVA plant open. ILVA said Monday's court order for the seizure of steel and semi-finished products as part of a corruption probe that saw seven top managers arrested would lead to the "almost immediate" closure of the plant. It also warned that related operations in other parts of Italy would also be shut down as a result. But the forthcoming government decree would "authorize the continuation of activity in the establishment of the company ILVA Taranto," sources said Wednesday. The Taranto plant's furnaces were placed under special administration in July following accusations emissions from them caused abnormally high levels of tumours and respiratory diseases in the Taranto area. ILVA workers all over Italy began strike action Tuesday to protest the prosecutors' actions. ILVA and the government have been trying to keep the plant in operation while remediation measures necessary for ILVA to obtain the AIA are carried out. Clini said the government would meet unions and company representatives on Thursday, adding that the aim was to find an agreement for a decree to keep the plant open.