Rome

Solution for ILVA to be formulated by June 5

Troubled plant produces 40% of of Italy's steel

Solution for ILVA to be formulated by June 5

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, May 30 - A long-awaited decree to salvage the troubled ILVA steelworks in the southern city of Taranto, save thousands of jobs and 40% of the country's steel production will be proposed by June 5, CISL trade union local secretary Luigi Sbarra said following government and trade union meetings on Thursday. However, it will not be discussed during parliament meetings on Friday, Environment Minister Andrea Orlando said. Earlier on Thursday, it looked likely that Premier Enrico Letta's government was set to appoint a special commissioner for the plant's cleanup and management. "The solution could be a single special commissioner to either take over (the entire plant) or one to oversee cleanup operations," Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato said in a radio interview. ILVA has been at the centre of a political and legal battle since July when local magistrates ordered the partial closure of its Taranto plant due to serious health concerns. Saving ILVA, a plant that produces almost all of the country's steel for the automotive, shipping and domestic appliance industries, as well as provides jobs for around 20,000 workers, has become a priority for Letta's government. "The closure of a company like ILVA would have the same effect as a bomb attack on the country," business association Cna said. "Any solution is appropriate, seeing as this is an exceptional situation. But what counts is that the work get started and production continues," CISL trade union leader Raffaele Bonanni said. The company is also plagued by probes into the Riva family, whose holding controls the plant, for suspected fraud against the State and fake money transfers. On Monday, government officials tried to reassure tens of thousands of workers at the troubled company that ILVA workers would be taken care of after police seized 9.3 billion euros worth of assets belonging to the steel group's owners and ILVA's board of directors resigned en masse, including the company's chairman and its CEO "The government will not leave workers alone," declared Industry Ministry Undersecretary Claudio De Vincenti. De Vincenti added that "guaranteeing continuity in production (at ILVA plants) is in the national interest". National secretary for the Democratic Party (PD) Guglielmo Epifani - the main party on the left in Italy's left-right coalition government - also tried to assuage unions that ILVA's current chaos would not lead to plant shut down. ILVA's steel plant "cannot be stopped, because if that plant is shut down, we will have a cascade of negative consequences for most of Italy's steel plants," said Epifani on Monday. The Taranto plant is the biggest in Europe, and the Riva group is the biggest iron and steel producer in Italy, the fourth-biggest in Europe and the 23rd-biggest in the world.

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