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ArcelorMittal's Gijon, Spain, steel mill halted by lockout, strike

пятница, 04 декабря 2020

A lockout by ArcelorMittal in Spain has halted the production of long products at the site, which has a capacity of 900,000 mt a year, according to the company, also affecting the production of steel rails and rods, a company spokesman told S&P Global Dec. 4.

The lockout was in reaction to a strike by workers which left the company unable to continue production, the Spanish subsidiary said in a statement Dec. 3.

"As a result of the ongoing intermittent strike by a consistent number of personnel, it is impossible to continue production at the site without putting at risk both the installation at risk and workers," it said in a statement.

Workers from two unions had called an intermittent strike on Nov. 25 in protest at a new productivity plan for the site which would potentially include 44 job losses. The action involved two-hour strikes divided between the start and end of each shift.

This situation means that it would not be possible to guarantee the standards of the products at the site, the company said.

The closure started at 5:00 pm CET (1600 GMT) Dec. 3 and will last as long as necessary, the company said.

The spokesman said that the company's other plants in Spain were generally operating normally, albeit with reduced demand and with the exception of one sinterer, which is currently offline.

Arcelor Mittal's two furnaces, with a combined capacity of 5 million mt/year were still in operation at the integrated site as are the sheet steel production site at Aviles and the coking batteries.

The 2.7 million mt/year A furnace was halted during the coronavirus pandemic due to low demand but then restarted on Oct. 26 to cover production while its Ghent, Belgium smelter is being remodeled, although the Ghent smelter is due to restart in January, according to the company.

In the wake of the pandemic, the company applied for temporary lay-offs for its entire Spanish workforce, numbering more than 8,000 workers.

However, the country's National High Court (Audiencia Nacional) overturned the company's lay-off application on Dec.2.

Arcelor Mittal said it disagreed and would appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo.)

Different parts of the company's production have been affected by Spain's response to the pandemic, which meant that the lay-offs were designed just to apply to the plants affected by reduced demand.

At the low point, the mills were running at about half of capacity because of a 25% slump in steel demand across the sector. Output is seen around 40% below 2019's.

A recent recovery has been tempered by news of some temporary closures at auto sites belonging to Ford and Volkswagen, which directly affect ArcelorMittal’s Asturias production.

-- Gianluca Baratti

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