Thursday, February 7, 2013
class struggle in Europe
Steelworkers clash with riot police outside French-based EP
The protests of hundreds of steelworkers have broken out into scuffles with the police outside the European Parliament (EP) in France’s eastern city Strasbourg. On Wednesday, workers of the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, came from factories across Europe to demonstrate against the company’s job cuts and restructuring plans. The workers who were throwing buckets and breaking glass on the roadside, faced tear gas and batons flung from squads of riot police dressed in full protective armor.
Management of ArcelorMittal in January announced the planned closures of plants in Europe, leading to thousands of job cuts across the continent. The angry protesters flocked in from plants in neighboring countries Luxembourg and Belgium as well as from Lorraine’s northeastern commune of Florange in France.
The protest comes on the day the Luxembourg-based company said global steel consumption would top last year’s two percent with a rise to three percent in 2013. The French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT) union backed the rally. CFDT union member Edouard Martin said the company “has shutdown around ten factories in Europe,” allowing the steelmaker to slash “nearly 60,000 jobs.” The company says the decision was made due to the weak European demand for steel in the wake of the eurozone debt-crisis.
The workers call on Members of EP to protect them and accuse ArcelorMittal of targeting European employees saying, “they want Europe to collapse.” ArcelorMittal has promised there will be no forced layoffs in France after the French government threatened to nationalize the Florange plant. 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.