Terni negotiations rumble on as sides fail to reach agreement

Owner ThyssenKrupp has agreed not to resume staff layoffs despite the expiration of the 30-day extension for talks on the future of Italy’s Acciai Speciali Terni (Terni).

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The extension expired on September 4 with no agreement between German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, Italian metalworkers’ trade unions and the Italian government over Terni’s restructuring, the company said on Saturday October 4.

ThyssenKrupp agreed not to resume its unilateral layoffs until a new technical meeting can be held at the Italian ministry for economic development on October 7.

“Negotiations are hanging by a thread,” a trade union source said.

Economic development minister Federica Guidi has worked to achieve an agreement, according to Marco Bentivogli, national secretary of Italian metalworkers’ union Fim-Cisl. He alleges, however, that Terni md Lucia Morselli, entrusted by ThyssenKrupp to present the management view, has been particularly hard-nosed in her dealings with trade unions.

The company’s proposal to reduce the number of redundancies to 290, from the 550 originally announced in July, was not considered sufficient by the unions, Steel First understands.

Other amendments proposed by the company include the reduction of benefit cuts originally planned by the company for the whole plant workforce. The total amount of these cuts would have shrunk from €12 million ($15 million) to €8 million ($10 million) per year, according to union sources.

Aside from the cuts, unions are questioning the industrial plan presented on July 17, which included the shutdown of one of Terni’s two electric arc furnaces and cancelling the transfer to Terni of a cold rolling line from Turin.

The transfer of this line was included in plans drafted by Outokumpu, when the plant was still owned by the Finnish company, but is no longer included in ThyssenKrupp’s plan.

Throughout negotiations, the company has shown some willingness to review certain points of its industrial plan. However, its attitude has been described as ambiguous by the unions.

“We will go on working for an agreement,” Bentivogli said, “but we will definitely resume protests, should the company take any unilateral action.”

In late July, violent protests broke out at Terni, resulting in a prolonged strike and a 24-hour siege at the plant with the md inside.

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