Fayot reassures unions over industry jobs



Economy minister Franz Fayot (LSAP) on Thursday met with labour unions OGBL and LCGB to discuss the sale of state shares in Paul Wurth and the future of Liberty Steel in Dudelange. 

Unions have been anxious over the future of industry jobs in the country after the state decided to sell its state in Paul Wurth, which produces equipment for the steel industry. The state acquired the 40.8% stake in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis to shore up the company.

Selling its shares to SMS Group, which already owns the rest of the business, leaves the company wholly foreign owned by the German outfit.

At the same time, the Dudelange steel plant is wrapped up in the financial trouble of its owner, UK business Liberty Steel, a subsidiary of GFG Alliance.

Recently collapsed lender Greensill was GFG Alliance’s main financial backer and the group is now looking for new sources of funding. CEO Sanjeev Gupta has assured the government that he remains committed to the Dudelange site.

In both cases, “the ministry of economy works to preserve jobs, maintain industrial activities with high added value and develop a steel industry geared towards green metallurgy in Luxembourg,” an official statement about the talks on 8 April said.

SMS has pledged to invest in Paul Wurth to develop hydrogen power projects. Unions received reassurances that there would be no job cuts before 2023.

And the government has pledged financial support to keep the Dudelange steel site afloat, for example by providing loan guarantees.