ArcelorMittal announced this morning the “partial cessation of activity” of your plant Zumarraga -which employs 325 workers-, although it has not indicated the date on which the measure will take effect. Those responsible for the steelworks have met with the workers to publicize the situation.
The company’s intention is to move employees and part of the production to other factories in the group.
The management will offer all factory employees the possibility of being relocated to other floors of ArcelorMittal and, depending on how the negotiation ends, will decide which parts of the production are kept in Zumarraga, sources from the Indian multinational have reported.
The company also intends to modify the working conditions of workers who may stay in Zumarraga.
Starting today, a consultation period opens and during the process, workers can avail themselves of the current employment regulation file throughout the steel group.
The ArcelorMittal factory in Zumarraga produces wire rod -which constitutes more than 70% of its turnover-, bars and corrugated round and its profitability has been affected, among other factors, by the “overcapacity that exists in the Iberian market of the long product” , according to the company.
In addition, the increased volume of product imports steelmakers from mainly from China, but also from other countries, is another of the factors that ArcelorMittal adduces to propose the partial cessation of the activity.
They also attribute the situation to the price of electricity and the high cost of importing scrap metal, the main raw material used in the Gipuzkoan factory, the aforementioned sources have pointed out.
In August 2014 the multinational also announced the temporary closure of the factory. In total, the Gipuzkoan plant has more than 300 workers in Zumarraga. The Mittal group bought the Orbegozo company several years ago and, for a long time, it has been one of the most important companies in Alto Urola.
ELA denounces that it is “a full-blown closure”
The ELA union has explained that in a meeting, which was still continuing at one in the afternoon, the company has raised this “partial closure” of the Zumarraga plant, although for the union central it would mean “a full-fledged closure” from the factory.
ELA has indicated that, so far and “with prudence”, what the company has proposed is a “partial closure that would be a definitive closure”. Likewise, they propose relocations for permanent personnel in other plants of the group, despite which this would mean “the industrial death” of Zumarraga.
“Beyond the individual solutions that arise, which we will assess, the issue is the Zumarraga industrial project, what is is at stake right now “, highlighted the union.
In this sense, he pointed out that ArcelorMittal Zumarraga has about 350 of its own workers, although “we are talking that we have about 200 more workers among subcontracted carriers, we are talking about a volume of employment, leaving out the auxiliary workshops, very important for the entire region”.
CCOO: “They intend to eliminate the Basque steel sector”
For its part, the CCOO union has accused the ArcelorMittal company of trying to “eliminate the Basque steel sector at a stroke” for announcing the partial cessation of activity at its Zumarraga plant just two months after the indefinite strike at its steelworks in Sestao.
CCOO recalled that, since the announcement of the strike at the Sestao plant, it has denounced the “ArcelorMittal’s lack of clarity” and his “Lack of compromise with the steel industry in Euskadi “.
“The multinational put on the table the need to take anti ‘dumping’ measures and against the high energy cost, but without specifying at any time whether these measures could be sufficient to continue with the activity,” explained the central.
CCOO has asked the Basque Government that, in addition to denouncing the “neglect” of the Minister of Industry, José Manuel Soria, adopt “urgently” measures and “move chips around the industry in Euskadi”.
He recalled that between the two plants there are more than 700 direct jobs affected, in addition to contractors and small and medium-sized companies that depend on the multinational.
LAB: “This responds to a plan prepared in advance”
On the other hand, LAB has accused Arcelor Mittal of “playing with the future of hundreds of workers” and of “laughing at Basque society in general”.
The union has denounced that the company “It is playing with the future of hundreds of workers, hiding information and acting without mercy according to their interests”.
In a statement, he warned that the company’s decision “responds to a plan prepared in advance.” According to LAB, “the Basque Government knew what the intention of Arcelor Mittal was and, therefore, it has been a necessary cooperator in the execution of the plan” or this company “laughs at the Basque Government, and consequently, at society Basque “.
Finally, LAB has demanded that the Basque Executive “stop running errands for these multinationals in Brussels and that, once and for all, start working to guarantee the future of jobs in the sector and its future”.
UGT asks for an investment plan
UGT has requested from Arcelor Mittal an investment plan in the Zumarraga plant that “guarantee its viability”, following the announcement of the management to carry out a partial closure.
In a statement, the MCA-UGT Federation and the members of the works council of the union in Arcelor Mittal de Zumarraga of Arcelor Mittal have demanded “a solution” to the management of the company that goes through “the maintenance of jobs” .
In his opinion, it is “essential to comply with the investment plan agreed in the previous agreement that allows the viability of the plant”, something that Arcelor Mittal “has not done since it bought it.”
The union has moved its “more resounding and firm rejection” to the partial cessation announced by the multinational at its plant in Zumarraga and has warned that the transfer of workers to other plants, as well as part of the production of the Guipuzcoan town, would mean “the destruction of hundreds of jobs in the region, since in addition to the 351 workers of Arcelor Mittal, workers in auxiliary industries and subcontractors would also be affected “.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.