Metal Workers' Protest Closes Italian Airport

Jan. 29, 2010
The workers from the Alcoa factory at Portovesme were protesting the plant closure.

Around 300 Italian workers protesting against plans to temporarily close an aluminum factory in Sardinia occupied Cagliari airport on Jan. 29, forcing its closure, Italian media reported.

Flights to and from the Mediterranean island were diverted to the nearby airports of Alghero and Olbia, according to Sky-TG 24 television.

The workers from the Alcoa factory at Portovesme occupied the airport from early morning to 1200 GMT, but agreed to leave after a meeting with Cagliari prefect Giovanni Balsamo.

He announced new talks to be held at government offices next week, and which will include representatives of the Alcoa.

Airport sources said the workers broke two metal detectors and the airport would remain shut while they were repaired.

Alcoa said on Jan. 26 that two plants, including Portovesme which employs 600 workers, would suspend production until February 6 pending a solution to the problem of high energy prices. However, at the same time Alcoa admitted that there was "no hope given the current situation" of reopening the second plant, at Fusina in the northeast.

The company is appealing a decision by EU regulators late last year which ordered Alcoa to repay Italy for state aid worth up to $400 million in the form of subsidized electricity prices.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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