“Not one step back. We will not go a millimeter back. It will be a struggle until we get an industrial plan aiming at the relaunch of this establishment.”
The 420 employees of Honeywell Transport System in Atessa have been on strike for 11 days. At this establishment, more than 700,000 turbos and more than 1,600,000 rotors are produced every year. The company wants to close the site in Val di Sangro and move production to Slovakia, where it has built a twin factory. Arms crossed, production stopped and picket line, night and day, until a positive turn.
On Sept. 13, in Rome, negotiations began at the Ministry of Development. “Honeywell’s phony position has come out,” said Davide Labbrozzi, provincial secretary of the union Fiom Chieti. “Numbers in hand, it leads in one direction: the dismemberment of the Abruzzo plant, for which it has been ‘cloning’ the production codes for some months already. After squeezing the situation, they want to close the gates and move.”
On Wednesday morning, in front of the gates, on the initiative of the unions Fiom, Fim and Uilm, there was a demonstration of solidarity. About 40 mayors from Chieti province, representatives of various political groups, party secretaries, regional parliamentarians and councillors attended.
“It is a delicate dispute not only because it involves hundreds of families, but also because here we are in front of an Abruzzo asset, with a very important technological value,” the provincial vice president Giovanni Lolli said. ”It is unreasonable to abandon a structure of this size. We ask Honeywell to sign a pact with the Italian government, in which the multinational commits to stay here for the next five years with an investment project to be funded by the region, according to E.U. rules.”
Employees say this is a moment of great uncertainty. “It’s difficult,” said workers Gennaro and Attilio, as they distributed cake slices, sweets and pizzas. “But we put all the effort into it. Now we wait for answers. … We are here 24 hours a day. We take picket line shifts, even in the rain. From time to time, we get some spaghetti or roast lamb skewers.”
Nicola Di Fabrizio has been a Honeywell employee since 1998 and is also the mayor of the small town of Montebello sul Sangro: “It’s tough,” he admits, “but we will continue. We will resist.”
Honeywell International is an American giant, present in 70 nations, with about 1,250 sites and 129,000 workers. It has no fiscal crisis on the horizon. “For this reason,” Nicola Manzi, representative of the union Uilm Chieti-Pescara and Primissimo Biscotti, Fim Cisl, points out, “we do not understand why the corporation wants to dismantle this site, despite the fact that this site provides excellence in quality and professionalism, and it is a key strategic supplier for the automotive industry.”
“After having shamelessly exploited the entire range of incentives available, the company thought it good to transfer its residence for tax purposes to Switzerland,” said 5 Star Movement Senator Gianluca Castaldi. “It is unfathomable that a multinational corporation, doing business for millions of dollars, continues to exploit the crisis, drawing on incentives for more than nine years, and then can decide to leave our country at will.”
“They want the extreme sacrifice: the acceptance of the closure of a factory that workers have made the crown of production in Italy to move everything to Slovakia, where it is easier to exploit and where they can take advantage of new public incentives,” said Maurizio Acerbo, secretary of the Communist Refoundation Party. “It is also shameful that Minister Calenda has positioned himself against the workers, demanding the suspension of the strike before summoning a new meeting in Rome.”
Also the UDC, from Sinistra Italiana, are close to the workers. While Gianni Melilla, of Article 1-Mdp, demands the government “to urgently propose measures of re-launching and consolidation of employment to prevent the relocation.”