Sat, 20 Jul 2019

Unions have voiced concern at the recent announcement by ArcelorMittal to slash 2 000 jobs, with Solidarity warning that the retrenchments may be the first of many to come.

On Wednesday, the local unit of the giant steel maker announced that it would be embarking on a restructuring plan as part of a strategy to reduce costs.

The steel industry has been reeling from high costs for electricity and raw materials amid poor domestic economic growth.

ArcelorMittal South Africa to cut 2 000 jobs

For its part, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which is the majority union at ArcelorMittal, has lamented the way the company has arrived at the number of people whose jobs are on the line, without first consulting with it.

Numsa Sedibeng Regional Secretary, Mokete Makoko, said a notice received by the union from the company did not mention the number of employees who will be affected by the restructure. He claimed the company's lack of consultation before arriving at the 2 000 figure was a "flagrant disregard" for workers' right to due process.

'We will do everything'

"We will do everything in our power to minimise the number of jobs which will be lost," he said.

Last year government intervened in a decision by the US to impose a 10% ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium products, and a 25% ad valorem tariff on steel products, for national security purposes.

Through engagement, the US granted SA tariff exemptions on 161 aluminium and 36 steel products.

SA's aluminium exports to the US account for 1.6% of total aluminium imports by the US. SA's steel exports in 2017 only accounted for 0.98% of total US steel imports, Fin24 previously reported.

Key industries such as the mining sector have seen large scale job cuts in recent years, as the economy goes through a downturn.

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