The French government and steelmaker ArcelorMittal are reported to be considering several options to save jobs at a northern plant ahead of a midnight deadline on Friday.
As workers from Florange lobbied the government, the Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg brought them breakfast.
Also on the table is the company’s threat to close two furnaces and the government’s threat to nationalise the site temporarily.
Edouard Martin, leader of the steelworkers union at Florange, said:
“When the market is going well, Europe consumes around of 200 million tonnes of steel. Today Europe’s production capacity is 143 million tonnes, and Mittal wants to reduce it. That means tomorrow, when the recovery comes, Europe will be forced to buy more than 60 million tonnes of steel from elsewhere.”
Europe’s steel industry is struggling with recession and cheap competition.
The French government is said to be considering a third option for the ArcelorMittal site in the absence of a private buyer.
French industry has suffered a cascade of recent job losses and the political stakes are high.