A combination of local and international challenges is cited by Arcelor Mittal Point Lisas for its decision to close operations in Trinidad.
The company’s decision comes on the heels of Thursday’s Industrial court ruling that the wages owed to workers, who were laid off in December, must be paid in full the company, by the end of April. Arcelor Mittal was also fined $24,000 for “its illegal industrial action” and its failure to treat with the union.
The company has two weeks to pay the fines but has signaled its intent to appeal the judgment in the High Court.
The company has explained that despite its efforts to avoid the closure of the iron and steel facility it has been under severe financial distress since the second half of 2015.
It added that locally, proposed major increases in the price of gas and electricity at a time of falling commodity prices have rendered production costs noncompetitive.
In a media statement this afternoon, Arcelor Mittal said additionally, proposed increases to port rental fees, announced property taxes and business levies have further contributed to the unsustainability of the business.
The company indicated that the plant has been idle since November 23rd 2015, when 480 workers were temporarily laid off as the company worked to find an alternative solution to closing the plant.
This lay-off announcement was renewed on February 3rd 2016, when 498 workers were laid off until 13 March 2016.
Just yesterday, President of the Steel Workers Union Christopher Henry articulated the joy that Arcelor Mital workers experienced after learning of a decision in their favor by the court.
He was speaking this morning on the Power Breakfast Morning Show on Power 102.1fm.
He sought to give background information on exactly what led to the workers’ dismissal at the company.
Henry said that the Union and Arcelor Mital started discussions since late 2014.
In December 2015 they were discussing issues that had presented itself in the industry.
He said that China had been dumping a lot of steel on the market and locally because of the cost incurred in producing steel, prices would have elevated.
In a meeting on the 7 December he revealed that a decision was taken by the managing director to curtail production however the union looked for ways to ensure workers were not adversely affected.
He described what happened next.
He continued to recount what else transpired.
Henry disclosed that shortly after leaving the meeting he began receiving calls from workers that they had received dismissal letters.
Henry disclosed that his union was carded to meet with the company today, however he was unsure what would transpire going forward..
President of the Steel Workers Union Christopher Henry.