French Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg travelled to the Lorraine region in a last ditch effort to avoid the partial closure of a steel plant.
This is another blow to the administration of President Francois Hollande which is been battling unemployment of more than three million, the highest levels since 1999.
Marc Michel of the CFDT union expressed his fears over the future of the workers. “We are very anxious about what lies ahead. We are hoping for a positive outcome despite hearing the opposite in the news,” he said.
The ArcelorMittal steel plant sits in the heartland of France’s steel industry. In a pre-election visit to the area, Hollande said he would do everything in his power to find a new investor for the company. A government report over the summer deemed the plant in Florange to be economically viable and has offered to buy it for a symbolic euro. Some 550 of the 2,800 workers would lose their jobs if a solution is not found.
Several major French employers have announced layoffs in past weeks including car maker Peugeot, retailer Carrefour and pharmaceutical company Sanofi.