BUSINESS

Steel companies to shut down plants at Aspropyrgos

By Christina Kopsini and Anestis Dokas

The steel industry in Greece is losing its battle for survival as the countdown has begun for the shutdown of the factories of the Manesis group’s Hellenic Halyvourgia and Halyvourgiki, owned by the Constantinos Angelopoulos group, at Aspropyrgos, Western Attica.

On Monday Hellenic Halyvourgia informed the plant’s 120 employees that it is preparing to lay off all the staff at the Aspropyrgos unit in the next few days. The steel company’s management explained to the workers that right now it is able to give them their severance pay, while in the next few days and weeks it may not be in the position to do so. The workers are expected to propose their own alternative solutions by Thursday.

Also on Monday, during a meeting at the Labor Ministry, the management of rival Halyvourgiki appeared determined to halt production at its own plant at Aspropyrgos after March 31. The ministry and the workers’ unions asked for a four-day extension before employees enter suspension status so that a ministerial committee can convene, possibly in the presence of the prime minister.

The company insists on the suspension of 192 employees out of the 255 staff at Aspropyrgos, and asked for the recording of its decision that if no solution is found within those six weeks, then the factory will shut down.

Asked about the huge problem of energy costs that major industries such as the two steel companies are facing, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Monday that “we will present specific measures to tackle the problem.”

The two steel factories have practically suspended operations over the last couple of years. Halyvourgia had been rotating its staff and had reduced employee numbers at the Volos plant where it currently employs 370.

With domestic demand having dropped below 300,000 tons per annum, the bulk of production is directed abroad. Since the start of 2013 the steel companies have been forcing themselves to export output – even if that entails losses – in order to maintain sales and avoid leaving their production potential unused.

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