Angry Workers Disrupt ArcelorMittal Management Talks

Protesting staff had gathered outside a factory in Florange to demand a date for the resumption of output.

About 300 angry French steel workers burst into a union-management meeting on April 9 at steel giant ArcelorMittal in protest at a decision by the group to further slash output across Europe. ArcelorMittal called off the emergency works council meeting at its factory in Florange in eastern France, where furnaces are to be halted over the coming months, after workers forced their way in.

Florange is one of two plants, along with Liege in Belgium, set to grind to a temporary halt under the output cuts announced on April 8. Unions said 1,000 of the plant's 2,600 staff were to be put on enforced leave from mid-April, for between five and 18 months.

Protesting staff had gathered outside the factory to demand a date for the resumption of output.

Hard hit by the economic crisis, the world's biggest steel maker announced on April 8 that it would continue to slash production in Europe. A union official said staff had been told that European production would be cut by more than half from the end of April.

ArcelorMittal had already announced a wave of production and job cuts worldwide, after reporting an operating loss of $3.5 billion for the last quarter of 2008. Saddled with $26.5 billion of debt at the end of 2008, the group is cutting 9,000 jobs or three percent of its global workforce, through volontary redundancies, and has warned that more layoffs could be necessary.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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