Belgian police clashes with steelworkers

Belgian police clashes with steelworkers
# 26 January 2013 04:35 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Belgian police in Brussels has clashed with steelworkers who held a demonstration to protest against the announcement of plans to shut seven steelmaking facilities in the country, APA reports quoting Press TV.

The employees of ArcelorMittal -- the world’s biggest steelmaker -- faced riot police outside the prime minister’s office on Friday as the Federal Government, the Walloon Government and ArcelorMittal unions held a meeting.

On Thursday , the steelmaking giant announced plans to close a coke plant and six production lines that would lead to the loss of 1,300 jobs in a plant in the eastern region of Liege.

Trade unions have demanded that the workers strike in Liege until Monday, when talks between management and employees will start.

"The workers are under shock," said Robert Rouzeeuw, the head of the General Federation of Belgian Labor (FGTB), adding, "We will have to pull ourselves together. We need to see how the politicians will react.”

The company says the decision was made due to the weak European demand for steel in the wake of the eurozone debt-crisis.

The steel giant posted over 200 million euros in losses in the first three quarters of 2012 and has forecasted major setbacks in the market this year.

"We deeply regret that the economic situation has further deteriorated to the extent that the proposal of further closures at Liege has become necessary,” ArcelorMittal said in the Thursday statement.

The Liege plant was a main steel hub in the 1970s with over 30,000 steel workers that shrank to some 5,000 in 2005, and Rouzeeuw said after the plans, "No more than 500 jobs will remain in the Liege basin."