Steel Workers Urge Arcelor-Mittal to Temper Dividends

'Shareholders should also pay a price, just like the workers.'

Managers from ArcelorMittal were urged not to pay out hefty dividends to shareholders when thousands of jobs are on the line as hundreds of the steel giant's workers rallied in Brussels on Feb. 10. "We invite management to pay dividends with moderation," said European Federation of Metallurgists (FEM) chief Peter Scherrer at the protest held on the eve of the publication of the company's annual results.

"Shareholders should also pay a price, just like the workers."

Faced with falling demand for steel sparked by the global economic crisis, ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, announced in November that it might have to slash up to 9,000 jobs worldwide, including 6,000 in Europe.

Scherrer said some $2.2 billion were paid out in dividends to shareholders at the end of last year, a rise of 29% over 2007.

"We want management to explore every possibility to help the workers keep their jobs," said Scherrer, urging the company to use "imagination" in looking for solutions. "Qualified labor is an asset of the group," he added.

Organizers estimated that around 1,300 demonstrators took part in the protest in Brussels.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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