Steelmaker ArcelorMittal told unions on Monday it will permanently close two mothballed furnaces in northeastern France, enraging workers who blocked off access to the entire steel plant and management offices at the site. The decision, confirmed in a company statement, is a blow to the Socialist government, which last week ordered ArcelorMittal to restart or sell the furnaces, which employ 600 of 2,700 workers at a site that is now symbolic of Franceís industrial decline. ArcelorMittal said in the statement the permanent closure of the furnaces, which were shut off in July and October 2011 due to a lack of demand, would affect some 629 jobs. The company said it would seek to move workers to new jobs. While ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal has given his consent to finding a buyer the issue lies with flagging demand, largely from the stagnant auto sector, which is not likely to revive any time soon.
Eurozone unemployment stuck at record 11.4%
Unemployment across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at its record high rate of 11.4% in August, official data showed Monday, renewing concerns that efforts to slash debts have sacrificed jobs. While European leaders have managed to calm financial markets in recent months with promises to cut spending and build a tighter union, they have been unable to halt the rising tide of joblessness. In August, 34,000 more people lost their jobs in the eurozone, according to data released Monday by the European statistics agency, Eurostat.
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