Arcelor Mittal has announced plans to stop or reduce steelmaking by three million tonnes at sites in Poland, Spain and Italy, citing “insufficient EU trade protection” as a factor. This will impact thousands of workers and will have disastrous effects on the local communities.
The future of two large European steel producers were put in doubt by the collapse of a proposed merger between Tata Steel Europe and Thyssenkrupp. Although the final impact on the workforce is unknown, Thyssenkrupp steel has announced that 6,000 jobs will be lost.
Now British Steel is seeking another huge loan from the UK Government and is facing major financial difficulties.
Employers say themselves that the industry can have a bright future in Europe and have a responsibility to take decisions which secure the long-term security of the industry and its workers.
At the same time, the European Commission must take its responsibility for securing the future of Europe’s thousands of quality jobs in the steel sector. Clearly, the safeguard quota put in place in response to US tariffs is not sufficient to protect Europe’s industry.
industriAll Europe is seeking urgent meetings with the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament as well as the European Commissioners for trade, employment and industry to press for the following:
- Urgent action to strengthen the EU safeguard measures to stop cheap steel being dumped on the EU market;
- A new steel strategy for Europe that helps the industry to tackle the challenges posed by high energy prices and high carbon prices (not experienced by non-EU competitors) and protects jobs in Europe;
- Increased efforts to work at an international level to stop global overcapacity which is crippling the European market.
industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary Luis Colunga, who has worked in the steel sector for 40 years, said:
“It is unacceptable that the livelihoods of steel workers across Europe have been put in jeopardy because of unfair international trade.
The European Commission must urgently impose strengthened safeguard measures that save the jobs immediately at risk and then take action to level the playing field for our industry through fair trade standards.
“We also urge employers not to make the situation worse by taking short-term decisions that could damage the long-term prospects of our industry, which they say themselves has a bright future.”
In the case of Arcelor Mittal, its announcement stated: “The steel industry in Europe can have a strong future but there must be a level playing field to ensure that an unfair advantage is not given to competitors outside the region.”
industriAll Europe opposes Arcelor Mittal’s short-term approach, which is not consistent with its own statement. The consequences of the planned temporary stoppages or slowdowns in production could cause irreparable damage to equipment like blast furnaces have only recently been renovated at great expense.
Responding to the situation in Arcelor Mittal, Mr Colunga added:
‘’Rather than a purely operational decision, the move by Arcelor Mittal is designed to send a political message to the European Commission. We are supporting affiliated trade unions in the affected countries in efforts to convince the company to rethink its strategy and we are encouraging our members to raise their grave concerns directly to their respective governments.”
industriAll Europe is now developing an EU Steel Action Plan designed to secure the future of the industry and its workers.