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The Pignone case

Of all the initiatives that Mayor La Pira undertook in order to safeguard employment in the city – Pignone, Galileo, Fonderia delle Cure, etc. – the former is undoubtedly the most emblematic.

Pignone was the largest industrial concern in Florence with a workforce in the early 1950s of almost 3000 blue-and white-collar employees. In the general post-WWII run-down of Italy’s engineering and metal-working sector it had attempted to switch over to the manufacture of textile weaving looms, but with little success.

In November 1953 the holding company, Snia Viscosa, announced its intention to close the factory down. In response, the workers occupied the factory and La Pira publicly sided with them. He wrote to national-level politicians, bishops, men of culture and entrepreneurs. He constantly broached the matter in his letters to Pope Pius XII ; he took a strong stance with his friend Amintore Fanfani, then Minister of the Interior.

ImageAgreement was finally reached on 9 January 1954 with ENI, the state petrochemical holding company, chaired by Mattei . The incomes of nearly 2000 families had been saved and the manufacturing sector of the city did not lose one of its lynchpins which, instead, grew from strength to strength .

Disagreement, however, did not die down and its extent can be seen in the forcefulness of a speech given by La Pira to the City Council  and in the arguments with Fr. Sturzo.

The same problems arose as thorny as ever when a similar situation emerged in another Florentine industry, the "Officine Galileo".