Trades Unionists from Bridgwater on a visit to their Italian partner town of Priverno have joined local striking workers on the picket line of the factory they have occupied in order to prevent possible asset stripping by it’s multinational owners.
The Franco-Norweigian firm SAPA who have 3 factories in Italy attempted to close their Priverno outlet in May which would have seen 150 workers thrown out of work in an area with 45% youth unemployment. Green Left Mayor of Priverno Angelo Delogu said “SAPA was only interested in keeping it’s market share in the Italian economy and made no attempt to sell the Factory to other potential buyers and to save the jobs and so the Metalworkers Union CGIL FIOM decided to occupy their factory to prevent them removing the machinery elsewhere.”
48% Youth Unemployment
Tiziano Maronna,CGIL FIOM General Secretary for the Latina region, was on the picket line to welcome the UK visitors and said “We have occupied the factory now for 150 days. SAPA refused to negotiate or listen to alternative solutions. This factory is a major employer for this region and closure would have a terrible effect. The Italian unemployment picture is 13%, in this Region it’s 16% but in this area it’s 27%! Youth unemployment here is 48% yet SAPA now plan instead to transfer production to Vietnam”
Bridgwater Labour Party leader and National Union of Teachers member Cllr Mick Lerry addressed the picket line and called for Government intervention saying “The factory here is clearly still viable and the quality of production good. This is Global capitalism at work destroying local communities and we support the workers here in their initiative to occupy their factory to save their community and fightback.”
Sedgemoor UNISON member Tim Mander asked about financial hardship and was told there was no strike pay and the only support was unemployment benefit if they gave up the occupation. He called for solidarity from British Trades Unionists and advocated the setting up of a fighting fund to back the workers.
Call for workers solidarity
Cllr Brian Smedley ,UNITE, urged the workers to consider extending their action to the picketing of the remaining 2 SAPA factories in Italy and to step up the pressure on SAPA to negotiate and consider the effect of their closure programme on communities bearing in mind they had factories elsewhere including Swansea in the UK .
Mayor of Bridgwater, Cllr Steve Austen, who is keen for Priverno to twin with Bridgwater and has been visiting firms in the region to seek out economic links, also joined the picket line and called for renewed efforts to support the workers action in protecting the machinery and thereby keeping their factory open by entering into “serious negotiations with the union and the local council to find a solution to save jobs in the community and find a new buyer rather than allow the devastation of a closure”.