Di Maio threatens revoke Whirlpool aid
ROME - Tension between appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, trade unions and the Ministry of Economic Development continues as minister and Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio expects the corporation’s top management to present within seven days a solution to avoid the sale and closure of their Naples plant.
Whirlpool’s intention to sell the plant goes against the framework agreement established with the unions for the transfer of the production of washing machines in Italy as well as the business plan signed on Oct. 25 2018, upon which the company committed to invest 250 million euros for the three-year period 2019-2021 in innovation activities in the Italian industrial sites, of which 80 million euros in Naples.
The American corporation’s decision has enraged Di Maio. Ministry sources disclosed that the M5S leader used a sharp tone to address Whirlpool’s top managers during a meeting between the ministry, the unions and company representatives. Di Maio would have said that “the Italian state is not taken for a ride,” recalling that since 2014 the group has received 27 million euros of public funds and thus “the state must be respected,” il Fatto Quotidiano has quoted.
Around 300 Whirlpool workers were in front of the ministry’s premises during the meeting while the sit-in in support of the factory workers had already been going on for four days.
"Whirlpool not only threatens to close Naples [plant], but we fear that it is also gradually coming less to its commitments elsewhere; for example in Siena, where we still do not see the actions necessary to increase production volumes, and in Fabriano, where they are delocalising numerous staff functions,” said Gianluca Ficco, national secretary of the Italian Union of Metalworkers (Uilm).
If Whirlpool fails to present a solution within seven days, which started on Tuesday, the money the American corporation took from the state will be taken away. “We are talking about at least 15 million euros already granted, plus those that were about to arrive,” Di Maio would have added according to Il sole 24 ore.
The minister suggested that a new discussion with the company’s top management will take place in a week with the participation of the local authorities of the sites where Whirlpool’s settlements are located.