Italy workers protest planned Alcoa plant closure

ROME Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:23pm EDT

Workers from Aluminium group Alcoa attend a protest in front of the Ministry of Employment building in Rome August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

Workers from Aluminium group Alcoa attend a protest in front of the Ministry of Employment building in Rome August 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito

ROME (Reuters) - Workers from a threatened Alcoa Inc (AA.N) aluminum plant in Sardinia staged a loud protest in Rome on Thursday to pressure the Italian government to intervene to keep the factory open.

"We want to live with dignity," said worker Renato Cocco. "We want to work and earn our living for ourselves, for our children and for our families."

Protesters draped in colorful flags beat the ground with their hard hats and chanted slogans, a line of police separating them from the ministry of economic development.

"We cannot accept that our region dies," union leader Daniela Piras said. "We want the Italian government to assume their responsibility and not give up on this aluminum plant."

U.S.-based Alcoa plans to close the loss-making factory by November unless a buyer is found. The only interested suitor, German hedge fund Aurelius, pulled out of talks with the government earlier this month.

Closure of the plant, a major employer on Sardinia, would be a heavy blow for the island, risking hundreds of jobs in a region already beset by high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

Seventy kilometers south of the factory, miners have barricaded themselves in the Carbosulcis coal mine, which is also threatened with closure with the potential loss of about 500 jobs.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by David Holmes)