Steel plant’s future looks bleak

Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis received a 24-hour extension until Tuesday morning in his attempt to strike a deal with union representatives for workers at the Halyvourgia steel plant and avert the shutdown of one of the country?s few remaining industries, whose staff have been on strike for nine months.

The minister?s meeting on Monday morning with unionists failed to bear fruit and Vroutsis asked Halyvourgia owner Nikos Manesis to delay his order to close down the plant at Aspropyrgos, western Attica, and lay off hundreds of staff.

When Manesis issued an ultimatum last week, saying he would close the plant unless the strike was halted, Vroutsis contacted the general secretary of the Communist Party (KKE), Aleka Papariga, and, in dramatic fashion, asked her to intervene, as the core of the strikers are believed to belong to the KKE-affliated PAME union.

However the atmosphere at Monday?s meeting between the minister and the union showed there was very little margin for optimism ahead of this morning?s deadline.

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