Venezuela nationalises largest steel maker

May 13th, 2008 - 12:29 pm ICT by admin  

Caracas, May 13 (Xinhua) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has signed a decree to nationalise the country’s largest steel maker Sidor, the culmination of a re-nationalisation process that began last month. “Today, May 12, is a historic day, a workers’ day. We have signed the collective contract with Sidor’s workers. I congratulate you for winning this battle to enforce justice,” Chavez said after signing the decree Monday.

Chavez last month ordered the nationalisation of Sidor, 60 percent of whose shares are controlled by Argentina’s Techint group, in support of workers seeking better pay and work conditions. Venezuela’s legislature and supreme court backed the decision.

“Sidor does not belong to Chavez nor to the workers, it is an enterprise for Venezuelans, a social property,” Chavez said.

Chavez said his government would transform Sidor into a socialist company by raising salaries and improving benefits for the steelmaker’s 4,500 employees.

The government also plans to reduce Sidor’s exports and increase steel supplies for domestic consumption, he added.

After signing the decree, Chavez appointed Rodolfo Sanz, minister of basic industry and mining, as the company’s president.

Sidor, which was privatised in 1997, produces about 85 percent of the five million metric tonnes of steel produced annually in Venezuela.

Chavez has been trying to nationalise Venezuela’s major industries since his re-election in 2006.

Last year, the Venezuelan government seized majority control of the country’s largest telecommunications and electricity companies.

It also acquired majority shares of joint oil ventures run by some of the world’s largest oil firms.

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