Thousands of furious Italian workers at Europe’s biggest steel plant have staged a sit-in after management announced it is to suspend operations.
On Monday a magistrate ordered the seizure of all production and ordered the arrest of seven senior managers at the ILVA plant in Taranto.
Prosecutors claim bribes have been paid to local politicians and officials to hush up the scale of pollution emanating from the plant.
“We want to safeguard our workplace, because they are taking it away from us. We have nothing to do with these pollution problems. These problems come from high up, from above, but we are losing our jobs,” said one worker.
The company says it has nothing to do with the abnormally high cancer rates in the area.
As many as 20,000 jobs are at risk in a region already hit by high-unemployment and economic stagnation.
The Italian government is desperate to preserve heavy industry in the recession hit country and ministers plan to meet with ILVA on Thursday to find a solution.