Aluminium maker Alcoa said Saturday it had began to close down its plant on the island of Sardinia in a move that will see hundreds of job losses.
Alcoa blamed "factors beyond our control" including "the economic situation and the burdens imposed by the European regulatory system" for the shutdown of the factory, which it said would take several weeks.
"Alcoa should be ashamed of not leaving the necessary time to find a solution, particularly as there is now an offer from a Swiss society," the CGIL trade union said, after a week of protests over the factory's fate.
Swiss multinational Glencore is considering buying the plant and Alcoa said it was shutting down the foundry on the Italian island in a manner which would ensure "the concrete possibility to reboot it" should an offer be made soon.
The protests over the factory's future follow a series of other industrial actions in recession-hit Italy, particularly in the impoverished south.
The re-opening of the Eurallumina metallurgical plant in Sardinia is in doubt and media attention has been focused on a heated protest by miners in a coal mine on the island, where workers had barricaded themselves underground.
The Carbosulcis mine appeared to have won a reprieve Friday, as officials said it would not close at the end of the year.