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ArcelorMittal layoffs may be the first of many, Solidarity warns

The steel producer announced on Wednesday that it would start Section 189 consultations with staff, which may affect 2,000 people.

ArcelorMittal SA's Vereeniging plant. Picture: www.arcelormittalsa.com

JOHANNESBURG - Trade union Solidarity said on Thursday the looming retrenchments at ArcelorMittal may be the first of many in the industry.

The union’s deputy general secretary Marius Croucamp blamed the job losses on the increase of electricity tariffs among other operational costs.

“We warned Nersa that this increase will destroy the industry. Yet, they continued and now the employees must suffer the cost,” Croucamp said.

The steel producer announced on Wednesday that it would start Section 189 consultations with staff, which may affect 2,000 people.

The company made the announcement on the back of pending major financial losses and warned that its headline earnings for the first half of the year would fall by at least R650 million.

Croucamp said the recent implementation of carbon tax placed the industry under more pressure and that it also played a major role in the retrenchments ArcelorMittal is currently facing.

“The timing of the institution was completely wrong because South Africa cannot afford it at the moment. Higher input costs in the steel industry, which is already under enormous pressure, will necessarily lead to job losses,” he said.

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