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Unions at ArcelorMittal demand dialogue

13 September, 2022The ArcelorMittal global union network brought together over 70 trade unionists from 18 countries in a virtual meeting on 6-7 September to discuss social dialogue and health and safety.

Profits for 2021 and the first half of 2022 are the highest in ArcelorMittal’s history. This was achieved despite the war in Ukraine that hampers production in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and also Europe.  At the same time, more and more blast furnaces are idle, and workers are forced into part-time unemployment with reduced pay.

Opening the meeting, Natalya Marynyuk from Ukraine reported about the desperate situation in Kryvyi Rih. Participants reassured their willingness to stand in solidarity with the steel workers at ArcelorMittal in Ukraine.

There was a vivid discussion on social dialogue in the company. Brazilian affiliates raised a lack of willingness from local management to enter into dialogue with unions and shop stewards. Several European affiliates complained about attempts from management to cripple the European Works Council by drastically cutting the number of delegates. In South Africa, a bitter conflict was fought earlier this year, ending only after a court ruled in favour of IndustriALL affiliates on strike for better wages and working conditions. 

Management, represented by executive vice president and head of human resources Bart Wille and his successor, Stephanie Werner-Dietz, joined for two sessions to respond to questions and statements.

All participants expressed strong objections to the latest developments in health and safety, especially the rising number of fatalities in the company. Everyone agreed that the work of the joint global health and safety council needs to be intensified and optimized.

“We are happy to see Bart Wille and Stephanie Werner-Dietz in the meeting and we appreciate the readiness to have a dialogue with the unions. But in many countries, like in Brazil, there is not the same readiness, as IndustriALL affiliates from Brazil have told the meeting. We expect the company to enter into social dialogue on all levels, which is why we reiterate our demand for a global framework agreement.

“To this end, we want and need a global structure with a clear commitment from ArcelorMittal . We want more than nice words – we want real engagement! Following our long-term goals, we adopted a new declaration, submitted to group management after the meeting,”

said IndustriALL base metals director, Matthias Hartwich.