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World financial crisis

French unemployment up, Arcelor to lay off 6,000 workers in Europe

Article published on the 2008-11-28 Latest update 2008-11-29 15:22 TU

Arcelor employees protesting on Thursday in Istres, in the south of France.
(Photo: AFP)

Arcelor employees protesting on Thursday in Istres, in the south of France.
(Photo: AFP)

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal said on Thursday that it could lay off up to 9,000 workers following a sharp drop in the global demand for its product. The group's management said the job losses would begin with voluntary redundancies and would continue into non-essential areas such as sales and administration.

After a three-hour meeting with management, union representatives said 6,000 of the job lost could come from Europe with the additional 3,000 in the US.

The company is aiming to reduce its spending by 775 million euros and management on Thursday blamed China, which in September put 750,000 tonnes of low-priced steel on European markets.

Hundreds of employees protested in Istres, in the south of France, on Thursday. Unions said it was "unacceptable" that employees suffer because of the current economic crisis, while the company was profitable.

"We feel that the group is overreacting given the reality," said Edouard Martin, a representative of the CFDT union. He suggested that the job cuts were solely designed to encourage markets to increase the company's share price.

France's unemployment figures for October were released late on Thursday and showed a sharp increase, passing over the two million mark.

Meanwhile in Japan, a Labour Ministry survey released on Friday suggested that over 30,000 temporary jobs would be lost before next March.

Mitsubishi, Toyota and Mazda have already said they will cut temporary jobs. Non-permanent workers represented 36 per cent of the Japanese workforce in 2007.