Wärtsilä Winds Down Engine Factory in Trieste, 450 Jobs Affected

Visitors tour the Trieste engine factory, 2016 (Wartsila)

Published Jul 14, 2022 9:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

Technology company Wärtsilä plans to ramp down a plant in Trieste, Italy and centralize its European-area four stroke engine manufacturing in Vaasa, Finland. The decision is expected to affect about 450 manufacturing jobs in Trieste, and it has drawn a strong reaction from Italian politicians. 

“With our new European manufacturing footprint, we are taking the next step in strengthening our competitiveness and creating a structure enabled for future growth. Italy and Trieste will continue to be very important for Wärtsilä in many areas as we aim to be part of shaping the decarbonisation of marine and energy industries," said Håkan Agnevall, President and CEO of Wärtsilä.

Roger Holm, President of Wärtsilä’s Marine Power, noted that the majority of Wärtsilä's staff in Trieste are involved in R&D, sales, project management, sourcing, service and training, and these positions will not be affected. As Wärtsilä transitions to green alternatives, he said, there may be new opportunities for investment in the region. 

Net savings for Wärtsilä should be about $35 million a year, with an up-front cost for the transition of about $130 million. No changes to Wärtsilä's engine product lineup or services are expected.  

Italian economic development minister Giancarlo Giorgetti responded to the announcement in strong terms, saying that he was "surprised and very irritated by Wartsila's unjustified and unfair decision." Giorgetti said that his ministry had been working with Wärtsilä's management on a future innovation agreement, and he plans to summon the firm's executives to ask for more information. 

Governor Massimiliano Fedriga of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region also expressed displeasure. In strong terms, Fedriga claimed that his office had previously "received ample reassurances both from the company's top management but also from Finnish diplomatic and governmental institutions" that the plant remained a part of the company's future plans. He called for the decision to be withdrawn and all employees to be retained. 

Discussions between Wärtsilä, union representatives, Italian authorities and officials will now begin, as outlined in Italian labor law.