ROME, July 29 (Reuters) - Ninety percent of oil and gas group Eni’s Italian workers adhered to a strike call on Tuesday to protest at the company’s plans to close or convert some of its unprofitable refineries, unions said.
Hundreds of refinery employees converged on Rome from far-flung regions of the country to berate the government which is Eni’s principal shareholder with a 30 percent stake.
Italy’s three major unions called last month for 30,000 Italian Eni staff to stop work for a day, shutting down refineries, petrochemical and other activities, as well as commercial, administrative and other offices.
Plant closures, especially in southern regions where industry is weak, have become especially emotive in Italy with unemployment climbing to record levels as the country struggles to emerge from its worst post-war recession.
“This protest is not just about Eni and the refineries but Italy’s entire industrial future,” union leader Luigi Angeletti said.
Protesters in front of Rome’s chamber of deputies held banners carried slogans attacking Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi and Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi, accusing the two of taking “food straight out of our mouths.”
Industry sources say Descalzi, who took over at the head of Italy’s biggest listed company this year, is preparing to cut Eni’s loss-making business, like its Italian refineries, and strengthen its push into more profitable oil and gas exploration.
Union bosses say Eni’s plans to restructure its domestic refining business, identified by Fitch earlier this month as a risk to the company’s credit rating, could lead to the loss of up to 6,000 jobs. (Reporting by Francesca Piscioneri, writing by Isla Binnie, editing by William Hardy)