David and Goliath: The Town, the Factory, and the Strike
In the mid-1990s, Terni’s steelworks became the property of the German multinational ThyssenKrupp (TK), under the name of ThyssenKrupp Acciai Speciali Terni. In 2004 TK announced the closing of the magnetic steel department, with a loss of 900 jobs and of the most technologically advanced sector of the factory. Terni had been searching for alternatives to its industrial identity (among them, tourism, based on the fame of its patron saint, St. Valentine; some university departments; media and culture). Terni seemed to be a good place to get away from. Yet, when the factory was threatened, it was felt as a wound to the whole town. Workers picketed the factory, blocked roads and railways, attacked management representatives. A general strike shut down the whole town. It looked like 1953 all over again, but the historical vision had changed: rather than seeing their struggle as a step to a new society to come, workers were merely trying to hold on to their livelihood. In the end, a compromise was reached.