Termini Imerese, the former Fiat workers who have been on redundancy pay for 12 years now only dream of retirement

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The countdown has already begun at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. In Termini Imerese, former Fiat workers are counting the days until November 4th, the day the layoffs expire, yet another. December 31st is a symbolic day for the town of Palermo and beyond: on December 31st 2011 the Fiat plant in the industrial area closed its doors definitively. Since then the redundancy fund has been the first (but perhaps not the only) source of income for workers. There were just over 1,500 at the end of 2011 but in these 12 years a thousand have retired. The story of the failed relaunch of the Termini Imerese industrial area is also this: a story of lives in limbo, of betrayed hopes, of knowledge and professionalism put to sleep. Meanwhile, euro more euro less, the redundancy fund has so far cost at least 120 million. And it’s just an estimate, by default.

The climate of uncertainty

Today the former Fiats, as they are called, remain in 560 but already in the first months of 2024, the thirteenth year since the closure of the plant, around sixty will retire. For the others, the countdown will continue in a climate of general uncertainty, at least from what we see today. The three commissioners of Blutec, the company in extraordinary administration that had taken over the plant from Fiat, are evaluating offers for the sale of the entire so-called business unit and news could arrive in the next few days. But that doesn’t mean they’re good. Last year (in April) the program agreement for the relaunch of the industrial area was renewed: it is worth 105 million.

For workers the possible goal is retirement

But for the workers, by now, the only possible goal appears to be retirement, the exit from the limbo in which they have found themselves for over 12 years. And together with the former Fiats there are the former members of the so-called Fiat subsidiary of Termini Imerese. «I am always of the opinion that an industrial solution must be sought and found – says Roberto Mastrosimone of Fiom Cgil – to give work to those who remained in the former Fiat basin but above all to give a development perspective to this area». At this moment, however, the perspective we are thinking about is another. For example, ensuring that several workers can retire thanks to the recognition of strenuous work: it is not easy given that the pay slips are no longer available. Someone managed to find them at home but they are missing for many years, too many if we want.

Hope: the 30 million of the Sicilian Region

One way out could have been the support of the Sicilian Region. In 2022, a law was approved that allocates 30 million to Termini Imerese, to the workers. The funds, included in the Program Agreement, seemed to be intended to encourage people to leave the redundancy fund pool or even to help workers retire. “With those resources at least 250 workers could leave” says Mastrosimone. But even in this case the issue is more complex than one might think: the law, as explained by the regional labor department led by Nuccia Albano, allocates resources to active policies, self-entrepreneurship and support for workers in economic difficulty.

What the law requires

Paragraphs 39 and 40 of article 14 of Regional Law 13/2022 provide for interventions in favor of Blutec Spa workers, measures to combat poverty and social exclusion as well as active labor policy measures for employment reintegration and self-entrepreneurship. We’re not talking about retirement and that’s no small thing. «We – says the councilor – have activated the procedures leading to the availability of the foreseen sums and we are waiting for the identification of the beneficiary by the college of extraordinary commissioners, to define the activities to be implemented to facilitate the absorption of the former Blutec workers by the winner of the public event”.

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