Dudelange is the only European manufacturer of Aluzinc, a product widely used in construction and cladding
A former employee of ArcelorMittal in Dudelange has joined unions in denouncing the lack of investment in the site, which has been mooted for sale.
The sale of the site is part of a recently-proposed divestment package to appease the competition commission of the European Commission in the Luxembourg-based steel giant's bid to buy Italian firm Ilva.
Days after the announcement, a former executive of the site, who worked in the steel sector for 30 years, said the group’s hierarchy in Dunkirk had transferred all logistic and commercial services to France, to the detriment of Dudelange.
“The disorganisation is complete: [Tuesday] again, two production lines had to be stopped, for lack of raw materials. Whereas, on the other hand, we have to store products in Dudelange and other European sites--for a fee-paying storage--for orders scheduled in two months!” the man said. ArcelorMittal could not confirm the claim when contacted by Paperjam.
The disgruntled former employee went to to say that among the 300 people working at the site, 60 are temporary agency staff, occupying permanent positions, which is illegal. Some have been working there for three to four years without being hired by the company.
“Unions don’t speak about this because the French management threatened to close the site”, the former executive said. ArcelorMittal told Paperjam there were “about 50 temporary workers, thirty subcontractors and about 220 employees on fixed-term or permanent contracts” in Dudelange.
A group spokesperson said the use of temporary workers is a “very common practice” in the industry to adapt to more or less sustained activity throughout the year.
Who would buy Dudelange?
But the site has considerable potential. Dudelange is the only European manufacturer of Aluzinc, a product widely used in construction and cladding, as well as Usibor, which is used in the automotive industry.
Unions also stressed the lack of investment by ArcelorMittal in Dudelange. “The investments are minimal”, said LCGB steel union secretary Robert Fornieri. The 2016 tripartite agreement concluded in September 2017, resulted in €30m investment in Rodange, Differdange and Belval steel plants. Fornieri says this covers the framework but does not make the sites sustainable.
Fight for Dudelange
The group invested €67m to modernise a production line in Florange, in France, which should be operational in 2019. This, says Fornieri, “risks creating competition with Dudelange or even absorbing its production volume.” As it is, Fornieri says the site is not sellable since it cannot stand alone. Concerns about the sustainability of the Dudelange site have been raised well before it appeared in the proposed divestment list.
In short, the message from unions was to fight for Dudelange in order to “find a buyer who guarantees investment in the facilities, and also investment in personnel. An investor who guarantees the supply of raw materials. An investor who also deals with good sale of products. An investor who keeps Dudelange operational,” the former executive said.
Management and unions were expected to meet on Thursday morning.