As a result of months of intense negotiations with the Walloon government and other stakeholders, ArcelorMittal has improved its industrial plan which was first announced on January 24, 2013.
ArcelorMittal Liège is urging unions to accept its proposals regarding a new industrial plan for the site’s downstream activities.
There are some key elements to the revised plan.
Hot-dip galvanising line number five will no longer be closed and will have an annual minimum load guarantee; in addition, the line will be given priority over other lines within ArcelorMittal, to capture additional volume in case the market improves.
Line number four will not be dismantled, making it available if the market improves. This means that the site of Flemalle will not be closed, as originally foreseen in the January 24 plan, but instead will have a minimum load guarantee with the prospect of higher volumes in the future.
The other lines scheduled for closure following the January 24 announcement will also be mothballed, not dismantled.
ArcelorMittal has also confirmed its commitment to an investment programme of €138M, including an investment in new technology JVD, which puts Liège at the forefront of new technologies in this sector. In addition, research and development work at Liège is confirmed for the future.
In line with the industrial plan announced on January 24, the company is still committed to operating Liège’s five core lines, including the complete packaging route, at a high volume, guaranteed load.
ArcelorMittal is ready to lay out its commitments in a written contract, with the provisions of the contract tracked by a government commission.
Bernard Dehut, CEO of ArcelorMittal Liège, said: “ArcelorMittal has invested considerable goodwill, time and effort to reach an agreement with its stakeholders on a sustainable industrial plan for the steel industry in Liège. Against the backdrop of a very difficult operating environment, we have tried to minimise the impact and have adapted the original plan announced in January. During some constructive meetings with the unions, we have showed our willingness to discuss the social plan in parallel. Although the Union FGTB and Setca announced in a press statement that they were also prepared to do this, until now they have refused all invitations to meet.
It is important to remember that Liège is still not a profitable business. If the new industrial plan is not accepted and there have been no social plans discussed, we have no choice but to revert to the original industrial plan of January 24 2013, and to proceed with its implementation. Without a social agreement, the conditions for employees leaving the company might well end up being the legal social minimum – a position not in the interest of the company and its employees. We therefore urge the unions to engage in social dialogue and show willing to reach an agreement on a new industrial plan for Liège.”