|Laid-off Italian shipworkers seize tanker|
|Thursday, 08 March 2012 17:39|
An oil tanker in Sicily has been seized by a group of angry Italian shipworkers who have lost their jobs and who call themselves the “Pirates of Trapani”, Reuters reports.
The vessel is owned by Italy’s UniCredit Leasing and was taken while it was undergoing construction work in Trapani, a busy port west of the island. UniCredit declined to comment on the proceedings.
“Twenty people are on board the vessel, the rest are at the gates,” said Enrico Culcasi, one of the group’s representatives.
Culcasi, a shipworker for almost 20 years, said the group had taken control of the vessel to protest the bankruptcy process for the ship repair firm working on the vessel. He said all 59 of the contractor’s employees had been made redundant and that less than a third expected to find work on the site once it reopens under new ownership.
A communique from the occupied tanker, written by former shipworker Antonino di Cola, described the group as “courageous men, stubborn, who at first sight seem to be real wolves of the sea, or indeed, pirates”. The note was published by an Italian website.
The firm Cantiere Navale di Trapani, which occupied a 70,000 square metre area at the Sicilian port, offered shipbuilding and repairs but was forced to shut because it could no longer afford to pay its debts, former employees say. The firm could not be reached for comment.
The occupation started in late November, and around 30 former shipworkers are involved. Trapani’s port authority said the workers could not be removed by force because the occupation had become a sensitive matter.
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