Unions Declare United Front Against Mittal's Bid For Arcelor

European metalworkers unions vowed on Feb. 1 to show a united front against Mittal Steel's hostile bid for the European steelmaker. "Trade unions from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg and Italy declared unanimously that they strongly opposed the hostile take-over bid of Arcelor by Mittal," the European Metalworkers Federation said.

After a meeting of its leaders from around Europe, the EMF said it would lobby EU policymakers against the plan while national unions would contact politicians to "try to elaborate with them ways to prevent the takeover in a joint effort".

"I don't know what EU institutions can realistically do," EMF chief Peter Scherrer acknowledged. "But I know that Mittal is trying to drum up support all around Europe," he added. "Jobs are threatened and we have to find allies."

Mittal Steel sprang an 18.6-billion-euro (US $22.7 billion) bid for Arcelor on Jan. 27 in a deal to reinforce its position as the world's biggest steelmaker. However, Mittal is increasingly fighting a public relations battle on top of a high-stakes corporate takeover as politicians and unions in countries where Arcelor has big operations line up to attack the deal.

"Workers' representative fear that through this takeover, they would lose the highly developed culture of social dialogue in the Arcelor group," the EMF said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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