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Judge Orders End to Strike at ArcelorMittal Galati

Fear of an explosion at the plant due to reduced operations

Some 4,000 workers at Romanian steel firm ArcelorMittal Galati on April 16 returned to work after being forced by a court to end a pay strike on the ground there could be an explosion at the plant. The judicial order to end the strike at Romania's largest steel unit, part of ArcelorMittal SA, followed a plea by management that there could be an explosion at the coking plant due to reduced operations.

In a separate ruling on April 16, a Galati court pronounced the strike to be "illegal," according to company spokesman Dorian Dumitrescu, who added that "social dialogue" would continue.

"It is a political, judicial and financial plot against the workers," said Gheorghe Tiber, head of the Solidartatea union which launched the strike on April 14.

The strikers wanted their net salaries -- averaging 750 lei (US$ 328) after taxes and deductions -- to be doubled, along with a hike in bonuses for extra work and aid for families of workers injured in accidents or killed.

Company officials have rejected negotiations to date, backing a general work contract it says increases their gross salary -- to 2,350 lei -- and has been signed by nine out of the 11 unions, representing three-quarters of the factory's 14,000 workers.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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