ArcelorMittal offers jobs to all French workers facing sack

April 6th, 2008 - 10:25 am ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, April 6 (IANS) All workers being made redundant at an ArcelorMittal steel plant in northeast France will be offered jobs at nearby steel plants owned by the company, ArcelorMittal said. The assurance comes ahead of a planned meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi N. Mittal to discuss the future of the London-based Indian’s steel plant in Gandrange. Some 60 French workers ransacked an office at the plant and threw furniture and files out of the window after management confirmed 575 job cuts Friday as part of a decision to close down part of the Gandrange plant.

According to the French media, police did not intervene to stop the workers, whose action was said to have followed a clash between members of two workers’ unions. Workers of one union also tried to break down doors to get into a meeting between management and union leaders.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal told IANS that a Joint Consultative Committee of ArcelorMittal Gandrange has decided to continue to examine “social support measures” for workers.

“ArcelorMittal intends to assume all its social responsibilities during the implementation of this reorganisation project. Thus, the Group would offer every employee relocation to another Group site (particularly one nearby, in Luxembourg and at Florange).”

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, has also decided to increase the 2008 investment budget of the Florange factory by more than 60 percent, to a total of 65 million euros.

“These investments will contribute to improving the efficiency and future prospects of the site. These initiatives should enable ArcelorMittal’s presence and prospects in the Lorraine region to be consolidated in line with the commitments given by the Group,” the spokeswoman said.

ArcelorMittal’s plans were made public after French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said earlier this week that Sarkozy would meet with Mittal “in a few days” but that the government has no plans to take over the site.

“We’ll say to Mr. Mittal, what are you doing, what are you proposing? Are you going to invest in your sites in France, will you create jobs in the steel sector and related activities?” he told France Inter radio in an interview.

Sarkozy and Fillon have previously assured that the government was prepared to use public money to save jobs at the plant, including the possibility of the state taking a temporary stake to facilitate a sale.

Fillon Tuesday reiterated that the government desire to maintain important industries in France but added, “We don’t want to run companies in the place of companies. When the state wanted to do everything, that was called the Soviet Union.”

Arcelor acquired the Gandrange plant in eastern France for a symbolic one euro in 1999. It produces some 900,000 tonnes of steel a year, but the company says it is not profitable enough.

(Dipankar De Sarkar can be contacted at

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