Trade union IndustriALL has called on the European Commission to investigate the closures recently planned by ArcelorMittal for its Liège steelworks in Belgium.

On Tuesday January 29, IndustriALL, Europe’s largest trade union, asked the Commission – and “particularly [those] responsible for industry and social affairs, Commissioners [Antonio] Tajani and [László] Andor – to urgently convene a task force to investigate the grounds and conditions for this restructuring decision and to jointly examine the strategy pursued by the Mittal Group”.

ArcelorMittal announced last week that it intends to permanently close six finishing lines and a coke plant at the Belgian steelworks, due to “further weakening of the European economy and the resultant low demand for its products”. 

“[ArcelorMittal ceo Lakshmi Mittal] is shedding high-value-added production capacity that is likely to be sorely missed by the European Union when recovery comes about,” IndustriALL deputy general secretary Bart Samyn said today.

“Unless there is a jointly agreed European reaction and emergency plan in support of European steel, Europe is likely to simply become a steel importer, despite the fact that the steel industry remains a strategic industry for Europe,” Samyn warned.

“This announcement, with its dramatic consequences for all of the workforce, as well as the sub-contractors in the Liège industrial community, is just another addition to the long list of industrial plants already closed by Mr Mittal in Belgium, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Romania,” IndustriALL said.

ArcelorMittal was preparing a response to IndustriALL’s comments at the time of publication.

The decision to close lines at Liège comes three months after a move to permanently close the liquid phase at ArcelorMittal’s Florange steelworks in eastern France, which the company similarly attributed primarily to “weak activity in Europe”.

Alexandra Chapman
Twitter: @AChapman_SF