Facing layoffs, Italian workers go on strike at Camp Darby
May 3, 2006
After receiving word Tuesday that about 70 Italian nationals will lose their jobs at Camp Darby, Italy, many of their fellow workers went on strike.
The Army Field Support Brigade-Europe announced that it would lay off about a third of its Livorno work force, which is largely Italian.
The positions would be eliminated by the end of June “as a result of the reduced need for support of Army Prepositioned Stocks there,” Jennifer King, a public affairs officer for AFSB-EU said in a press release.
King said the move was made because of a congressionally mandated analysis in 2003. A recent review determined the work force was too large for the reduced workload at Darby, she said.
“It is not related to European transformation. It is not related to any (Department of the Army) realignment,” she said. “It is a unique situation.”
AFSB-EU operates other facilities in Eygelshoven, Netherlands, and RAF Hythe, in the United Kingdom. Another operation in Luxembourg had previously been slated for closure and is due to shut down by the end of the year.
King said the Livorno operation employs 259 civilians — all but 11 of them Italian nationals. Two American civilians also are slated to lose their positions. The operation also has 11 active-duty servicemembers.
Darby is one of the area’s largest employers, with more than 500 Italians filling a variety of roles, some traditionally held by active-duty personnel. There are about 300 American servicemembers at Darby, roughly split between the Army and Air Force.
The affected workers were notified Tuesday by mail of the action, according to the press release.
Chiara Mattirolo, an Italian national who serves as the base’s public affairs officer, said the two unions representing most Italian workers on base decided to stage a strike from 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday in response.
Lt. Col. Steve Sicinski, the American base commander, said most Italian workers seemed to be involved in the strike, which he emphasized was not targeting the base itself.
“It is disrupting operations a little bit, but it is not significant at this point,” he said.
Mattirolo said there were some discussions about organizing further actions later Tuesday and Wednesday, including the possibility of staging a demonstration in the nearby city of Livorno, where the country’s president, Carlo Ciampi, is visiting. Ciampi, a native of the city, is in the area to attend a memorial service for an Italian servicemember recently killed in Iraq.
“We’re trying to obtain the maximum attention from the Italian government,” Mattirolo said, adding that she would shortly join the action herself.
King said AFSB-EU would try to help workers who were interested in staying employed with the U.S. government land jobs elsewhere in the country. It would pay for their relocation expenses in such cases, she said.