Steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal has announced the closure of two idle blast furnaces in eastern France and with it the potential loss of more than 600 jobs.
The company shut down the furnaces in Florange 14 months ago, while continuing other operations at the plant.
Trade unions are furious. Edouard Martin is from the CFDT and said:
“The fight continues, because for us this announcement is as bad as it gets. There will be 629 job losses, ArcelorMittal has a stronger voice that our government. They have given the government until December 1 to find a buyer or the furnaces will be dismantled.”
In a statement ArcelorMittal said “the company believes that it can avoid any compulsory lay-offs by utilising a number of social mechanisms, such as mobility and the age profile of the plants, which will be agreed as part of the social dialogue in order to find a solution for each person.”
Paris says it will assist in finding a buyer to takeover operations. If that fails they want to company to invest 150 million euros in other areas if the shutdown goes ahead.
Arnaud Monterbourg is the French Industry Minister:
“The company said we have two months to find a solution to this problem before the closure. We the government cannot manage all the social impact of this. We can help produce steel in France for French use.”
It is a major blow to the Socialist government of Francois Hollande which has seen a number of high-profile closures and redundancies since taking office.