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15,000 steelworkers march to save steel in Europe

10 November, 201615,000 steelworkers marched through Brussels on Wednesday 9 November to demand action to protect the steel industry in Europe.

Marching under the banner ‘No Europe without steel’, the industriAll Europe-led protest called on the European Commission to take concrete measures to guarantee jobs and safeguard the future of the steel industry.

“Steel is of key importance for European industry. Not only does the sector provide employment for more than 330,000 workers, but it also plays an essential role in the first stage of the industrial value chain and in the manufacturing of many industrial products. We must secure the future of European steel and this includes safeguarding against the import of steel at dumping prices, the presence of strong trade defence instruments and an emissions trading system that supports jobs and the environment,” said Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe.

Many IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Belgium and beyond also attended the march, which went through the heart of the European Union quarter of the Belgian capital.

IndustriALL’s President Jörg Hofmann joined Luc Triangle at the head of the protest, representing both IndustriALL and German affiliate IG Metall, where he is also president.

“We are here to show the European Union that they have a mission. They have to protect your jobs. They have to act in our name and save the steel industry in Europe,” said Hofmann in addressing a rally at the end of the march. "We do not want protectionism - we are very competitive when it comes to quality and productivity. But we want fair competition - and no undercutting through steel dumping." 

Over the past seven years, more than 80,000 jobs have been lost in the European steel industry.

“Europe desperately needs the European Steel Action Plan to be implemented. The restructuring needs to stop if we want to secure a future for our steel sector, its jobs, and know-how that we have built up over so many decades,” said Triangle.

The steelworkers’ demands are:

1. No to steel dumping, yes to fair trade!

2. An emissions trading system that supports the environment and jobs

3. Effective trade defence instruments

4. A proactive industrial policy to support the steel industry

5. More and better jobs

6. Increasing and modernizing Europe’s steel capacities

The global challenges to the steel industry will be of key debate at IndustriALL’s base metals world conference to be held in Duisburg, Germany from 21-23 November.