5 Novembre 2019

A.Mittal says pulling out of ILVA, govt says won’ t let it


Rome, November 4 – ArcelorMittal said Monday it was pulling out of ILVA prompting the government to say it would not let it do so. AM InvestCo Italy, parent of the ArcelorMittal steel group, on Monday notified ILVA’ s extraordinary commissioners of its desire “to rescind an accord to lease with acquisition the assets of the Italian steel group and some units acquired according to a deal sealed on October 31,” according to a statement from the multinational The Franco-Spanish-Indian group, the world’ s biggest steel producer, said it had “asked the extraordinary commissioners to take on the responsibility of the assets of ILVA and its employees within 30 days from the reception of the communication” of ArcelorMittal’ s desire to leave ILVA and its troubled plant at Taranto, the largest in Europe employing over 10,000 people. But the government said it will not let ILVA close. Industry ministry sources said during a summit between Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli, Minister for the South Giuseppe Provenzano, Labour Minister Nunzia Catalfo, Health Minister Roberto Speranza, Environment Minister Sergio Costa and representatives of the economy ministry on Monday that “there are no juridical premises for rescinding the contract”. “We will summon Mittal immediately”. Premier Giuseppe Conte went on to host a summit with those ministers, plus Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri, at the premier’ s office. Sources said he would summon ArcelorMittal chiefs to the premier’ s office on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier this month the government’ s save-business decree removed a so-called “penal shield” protecting ILVA. The Taranto plant, whose pollution had been linked to high local cancer rates, was being cleaned up and turned around with government help. But the lifting of the shield put that operation at risk. A.Mittal said in its statement that the elimination of the “legal protection” since November 3, “necessary to the company to implement its environmental plan without the risk of penal responsibility,” was the main reason for the pullout. “In addition,” it said “the measures taken by the Taranto penal court oblige ILVA’ s extraordinary commissioners to complete these prescriptions by December 13 2019 or see blast furnace number 2 turned off”. This, it said, would “make it impossible to implement the industrial plan, and, in general, to execute the contract”. Arcelor Mittal Italia President and CEO Lucia Morselli said “it is not possible to manage the plant without these protections needed to execute the environmental plan, definitively removed yesterday with the failure to convert into law the relevant decree.” She said in a letter to workers that “it is not possible to expose employees and collaborators to potential penal action”. Morselli said “it will be necessary to implement a plan of well-ordered suspension of all the productive activities starting from the hot area of the Taranto plant, which is the most exposed to the risks deriving from the absence of legal protections. “Also the activities of all the other departments and operational areas will be progressively suspended with the aim of maintaining all the plant in efficiency and ready for a productive restart”. Reacting to ArcelorMittal’ s statement, the FIM CISL union said that the government had achieved “a masterpiece of incompetence and political cowardice. “Not defusing an environmental bomb, but rather combining it with a social bomb is due to the mess made with the save-business decree,” said FIM CISL secretary Marco Bentivogli. Rightwing opposition League leader Matteo Salvini called on Premier Conte to “urgently” report to parliament on the case and said the government should quit over its alleged failure to protect jobs. “If the government of taxes, migrant landings and handcuffs (for big tax evaders) also chases off the owners of ILVA, putting at risk the jobs of tens of thousands of workers and the country’ s industrial future, it will be a disaster, and resignation would be the only possible response.” He said that “if the government does not report to parliament we will block parliamentary work”. Salvini called Conte “the worst enemy of the south”. The ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) urged Conte to “immediately summon Arcelor Mittal”, voicing “all our concern and dismay at the company’ s announcement it is pulling out.” It said “there can be no fooling around with workers and the environment: we demand seriousness and respect”. PD Senate Whip Andrea Marcucci accused Salvini of being “forgetful because it was his government that lifted the penal shield on ex-ILVA with its growth decree”. The federation of Italian industry, Confindustria, said “the announced withdrawal of ArcelorMittal from the ex-ILVA plant will have negative effects on the city of Taranto and on the economy of the whole country with particular impact on employment.” It said it “hopes that the conditions can be created to reopen talks with the company aimed at keeping steel production in Taranto.” The federation of Italian steel firms, Federacciai, said “the consequences for ancillary firms would be enormous, exposing all ever more to the dynamics of imports, but they would also be heavy for the Italian steel industry as a whole which is, let’ s recall, the second biggest in Europe and the 10th biggest in the world”. It added: “what we had feared has sadly happened: changing the rules of the game during the game could only lead to a bust-up”. Engineering group Federmeccanica said “this is the worst of all possible situations”. Taranto Archbishop monsignor Filippo Santoro said the steel group’ s pullout would cause a “social disaster”. Codacons consumer group, which has launched several initiatives in favour of the pollution-hit Taranto population, said the procedure for the definitive closure of the sprawling works should be opened. Puglia Governor Michele Emiliano, of the PD, said the Taranto plant “kills citizens and workers” and “is totally illegal as shown by the very same management of ArcelorMittal which without a special penal immunity, which existed in Europe only for them and which is not permitted for another other company, intimates with arrogance to the Italian State to take back its factory within 30 days.”

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