Liberty Steel trade unions urge for emergency action at national and EU level to stop this industrial catastrophe and safeguard sites and +18,000 jobs on continental Europe.

A wave of dramatic announcements in the last weeks has left the +18,000 Liberty Steel workers in Europe in shock. While industriAll Europe had reported grave concerns about the viability of GFG Alliance’s continental European businesses earlier this year, the combination of adverse market conditions and lack of liquid capital has led to the extreme deterioration of the situation.

On 15 May, the Liberty Steel/GFG Alliance Group announced that it was open to sell its Liège (BE), Dudelange (LU) and Magona (IT) sites, leaving a total of ca. 1,000 workers in the dark as to their future. On 10 June, the Group announced the permanent closure of the two coke ovens at Dunaújváros (HU), with a direct impact on 520 workers. A few days later, the news broke about the company filing for insolvency proceedings in Czechia and the search for new investors, while the +5,000 steelworkers at Ostrava learnt that their wages will no longer be paid by the company.

On 20 June, the Częstochowa (PL) plant’s management was put under forced supervision by the economic labour court following multiple creditors filing for insolvency proceedings, leaving an additional +1,000 steel workers in disarray.

With +7,500 direct jobs at stake, tens of thousands of indirect jobs at risk, and the future of vital European steel production capacities called into question, GFG Alliance/Liberty Steel trade unions from Belgium, Czechia, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and the UK held an online emergency crisis meeting on Friday 21 June under the auspices of the European and global federations, industriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global Union.

Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe General Secretary stated:

“The entire EU project is born from the deep conviction that you cannot grow a thriving European industry without first and foremost robust steelmaking capacities in Europe. More than 70 years after the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community, it is absolutely outrageous to see such a strategic asset at risk of collapse.

“IndustriAll Europe calls on European and national public authorities to step in and provide emergency solutions to save Europe’s strategic steel assets which are vital for the EU to meet its Green Deal ambitions and achieve its desired open strategic autonomy. Thousands of jobs are at risk in regions dependent on industrial activities and we demand action to safeguard these jobs and to guarantee quality industrial jobs for all.”

With the backing of industriAll Europe, European steel trade unions urgently demand:

  • Emergency public support and coordinated actions to support Ostrava and Częstochowa workers and save the sites from bankruptcy.
  • Sales processes for the sites open to divestment with the full involvement of trade unions at all stages, and the guarantee to base any decision on a “responsible buyer”-first principle.
  • Liberty Steel’s commitment to provide full transparency and tangible guarantees for the future of the remaining sites.
  •  A review of EU competition rules to secure this never happens again.
On 25 June, industriAll Europe met with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, to share Liberty Steel trade unions’ demands and discuss possible EU support measures to safeguard thousands of steel jobs and protect Europe’s critical industrial base. The discussion took place three months after industriAll Europe’s European Steel Action Day and the EU high-level meeting on steel convened by European Commission Executive Vice-Presidents Vestager and Šefčovič.

IndustriAll Europe remains fully committed to engaging in quality social dialogue and continues to call for a follow-up EU high-level steel meeting and the establishment of an EU high-level policy hub on steel with social partners at its centre.

Read the statement here EN FR DE