A key outcome of the meeting was Vice-President’s commitment to organise a high-level EU crisis meeting soon between the European Commission, the Member States concerned, trade unions and relevant stakeholders on the future of steel production in Europe. IndustriAll Europe welcomes Vice-President Vestager’s recognition of the seriousness of the situation in the company and in the sector and the need for a solid debate on steel production in Europe.
The situation at GFG Alliance/Liberty Steel, as outlined in a recent joint statement by industriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global Union, paints a grim picture.
With several blast furnaces idled, production capacity has fallen to alarmingly low levels. More than 20,000 steelworkers in several European continental countries are facing uncertainty, either out of work or anxiously awaiting news about their future.
The situation is particularly dire in the Czech Republic, where 6,000 workers in Ostrava are unsure when production will resume, and 30,000 indirect jobs and 117 subcontractors are at risk.
The financial toll of the crisis is significant, with millions of euros needed to repair plants, restart production and invest in green steel initiatives.
European day of action
Trade unions, strongly opposed to any strategy that leads to the destruction of strategic industrial assets in Europe, are taking action.
On 22 February, trade union actions will be organised at Liberty Steel’s continental European sites to demonstrate the commitment of GFG Alliance workers and workers in the supply chain to fight for the viability of steel production in Europe.
Following a call by the Czech affiliate of industriAll Europe, OS KOVO, 6,000 workers at Liberty Steel in Ostrava, Czech Republic, will organise a rally in front of the steel plant together with family members, the local community and workers whose jobs are indirectly at risk. The Ostrava steel plant is indirectly responsible for some 30,000 indirect jobs in the region.
Judith Kirton-Darling, Acting Joint General Secretary at industriAll Europe, said:
“Europe cannot afford to lose this strategic industry. Steel is a foundation industry of our economy and absolutely essential for Europe’s strategic autonomy. Especially in the context of the energy transition and with wars on our doorstep.
“We therefore strongly welcome the Commission’s commitment to discuss with stakeholders, including trade unions, a strategy to secure sustainable steel production in Europe as the sector faces an unprecedented crisis.
“Together with our sister organisation IndustriALL Global Union, we stand in full solidarity with the workers of Liberty Steel. We will support all efforts for a successful European action day against the company’s lack of care and unsustainable management that is putting thousands of jobs at risk.”