Call for govt to step in as 2,000 steel workers face retrenchment

ArcelorMittal was in the process of retrenching about 2,000 workers, as the business struggled to keep up with a difficult trading environment.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday called on the Trade and Industry Department to participate in retrenchment talks at ArcelorMittal to get a clearer picture of the crisis in the industry.

The metal producer was in the process of retrenching about 2,000 workers, as the business struggled to keep up with a difficult trading environment.

Solidarity’s head of industry Marius Croucamp said government needed to intervene in the sector as it battled high electricity costs and rail freight tariffs.

“Most of the factors affecting ArcelorMittal are also affecting the steel industry in general. We need an urgent intervention on a broader basis to save this industry. There have been many job losses. What’s happening at Arcelor Mittal and the retrenchment of 2,000 people is just a symptom of a bigger problem.”

The country’s steel industry saw a constant decline since 2010, due to weak demand and cheap steel imports, affecting profitability.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)