Union attacks French government over threat to Lakshmi Mittal's ArcelorMittal
President Francois Hollande has himself dangled the threat in talks with the billionaire, ranked 21st in the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people, over the row on the Florange plant in the eastern Lorraine region.
France has threatened to take over the plant if ArcelorMittal goes ahead with plans to permanently close two blast furnaces on the site that the company regards as uneconomic.
ArcelorMittal, which wants to continue to operate the rest of the site, has given the government until Saturday to find a new investor willing to take over the furnaces.
Laurence Parisot, the head of the influential Medef employers' union, said the proposed move, first unveiled by Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg, was "simply scandalous."
"If the aim through these statements is simply to exercise pressure, to engage in blackmail in the course of negotiations, it is unacceptable," she said on RTL radio.
Parisot said it was not up to the state "to start telling each company in France 'this is our strategy'" adding that only "an entrepreneur can know if something is profitable or not."
Former premier Alain Juppe, a heavyweight figure in the right-wing opposition, called for Montebourg to be sacked over remarks he deemed "calamitous" for the image of France.
"It is time to replace someone who is on his way
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