Steelmakers throughout Europe reluct against uneven market conditions. Hundreds of people demonstrated in Ostrava for safeguarding of steel production. The trade unionists were not alone this time. The same goals are pursued by company managers and some politicians including the regional governor joined them. The event was co-organized by Vítkovice Steel.
A demonstration for safeguarding of steel production in the Czech Republic and Europe was held by steelmakers at Dolní Vítkovice on 1 October. It was aimed to publicly express concerns about liquidation of important industrial sector. “We have to fight. Due to strict environmental legislation in the EU the steel industry is unable to compete with imports from China, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries which can supply the European market with steel for lower prices because they are not bound by any similar restrictions. Moreover, next June the safeguards limiting the steel imports to the EU will expire. Should the European Commission fail to extend their validity, this would have liquidating consequences for a number of companies,” said Roman Ďurčo, Vítkovice Steel Trade Union Chairman, one of the main organizers of the event.
The demonstrations and various meetings for the safeguarding of steel industry under common slogan “Europe needs steel, steel needs Europe” took place at the same date in many European countries. A great manifestation was to be held in Brussels but because of fears of coronavirus spread the trade unions decided to transfer the event to national levels.
“Out failure to start addressing the steelmaking issue immediately would seal a fate of hundreds of thousands of European employees who work in or are dependent on this industry. Although at present we face the pandemic, any postponement of addressing the steelmaking crisis would result in addition of another huge problem to the serious problems we have to tackle,” warned Jaroslav Souček, KOVO Trade Union Chairman.
Not only employees but also managers of the biggest steelmaking companies took part in the industrial action. Dmitrij Ščuka, General Manager of VÍTKOVICE STEEL emphasized the importance of the safeguards by which Europe should consistently protect its market and, by extension, European producers. Otherwise it will lose its self-sufficiency and be dependent on unfair imports.
In addition to that, without support from the state and EU the Czech companies are unable to adapt their technologies quickly enough to comply with the tightening EU rules. The investments in innovations and CO₂ emission reduction will cost another billions CZK. In the steelmakers’ opinion, the EU and Czech government do little for this industrial sector. For example, the public procurements should prefer Czech or European steel. The steelmakers also require that the coking coal phase-out is slowed down.
Ing. Jana Dronská, MBA, spokeswoman