Steel company lays off 600 workers in Trinidad

8 December 2015

The Steel Workers Union of Trinidad and Tobago Monday denounced the decision of the ArcelorMittal Point Lisas, a subsidiary of the world’s leading steel and mining company, to lay off 600 employees with immediate effect.

The SWUTT said that the company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, had sent letters to “all it workers” laying them off “with immediate effect”.

The union said that only a few workers would remain on the plant for maintenance purposes from the period December 7 to January 15 next year.

In its statement, ArcelorMittal, said it had been unable to reach an agreement with the union on a proposal “for workers with accrued vacation days to proceed on paid vacation, while workers who do not have vacation leave to engage in alternative functions on a temporary basis outside of their normal duties”.

It said that as a result of the failure to reach an agreement it “has had no option but to begin a process of laying-off workers.
“Aware and conscious of the Christmas season and in the spirit of goodwill and the need of workers to be in a position to take care of their families, ArcelorMittal Point Lisas has undertaken the responsibility to provide the workers with some financial assistance as has been done on occasions in the past."

The company said it is also offering staff members the opportunity to “encash a limited amount of accrued vacation entitlement”.

The company said that at a meeting with the union last Friday, it made it known that “it was impossible for the company to keep workers on the plant over a protracted period without having work for them to perform.

“At a meeting with the union today the Company communicated its decision to lay off employees. The company also informed the union of its preference for employees to proceed on vacation as proposed and left the door open in this regard.”

ArcelorMittal Point Lisas said a few weeks ago, it had announced that because of oversupply of steel in the international market and the drying up of orders for its Direct Reduced Iron and steel products produced here, it had to shut down operations temporarily.

“The global steel industry is experiencing its worst recession in 10 years, comparable to that experienced in the early '90s. Every steel company in the world is facing this difficult reality and ArcelorMittal Point Lisas has had no choice but to react to these changes in the industry,” the statement noted.

On November 6, ArcelorMittal announced that it was reducing its cash requirements in 2016 by approximately one billion US dollars as compared to 2015.

It said this would be achieved through a number of initiatives, including lower cash interest costs, lower cash taxes and suspending the dividend for the financial year 2015.

It said that these actions and developments are expected to ensure that the company continues to generate positive free cash flow, reduce net debt and maintain strong liquidity.