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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le document qui fait mal à Mittal

by Thomas Lemahieu

The Document That Hurts Mittal

Translated Sunday 23 December 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

According to a chart released to the public by the CFDT trade union, the Florange works are perfectly profitable.

Florange is perfectly profitable, blast furnaces included. Following the Faure report handed in to the government at the end of July, this is again attested by one of the multinational’s internal documents – a simple A4 sheet of paper, released to the public on the evening of December 12 by the CFDT: according to the chart comparing the factory price of a steel coil made by the five steelworks of the North division of ArcelorMittal (Bremen, Dunkirk, Florange, Ghent, and Liège), the Florange plant’s production cost is average – neither the most nor the least expensive. An extra cost of 24 euros a ton caused by the transport of raw material to the Fensch valley is compensated by the performance of the now-endangered facilities and workers. “It can be seen from the cost curves that Florange is one of the most profitable plants, as profitable as Ghent and Dunkirk,” CFDT leader Edouard Martin trumpeted. “It’s not the trade unions that’re saying so, it’s management itself. The excuse put forward by Mittal as to Florange’s lack of competitiveness doesn’t hold, and that’s why we’re now demanding an accounting from Mr. Mittal, who’s capable of lying to the whole world!”

On the morning of December 13 ArcelorMittal contested the publicity given to this document without, however, being able to deny its veracity. For the multinational’s spin doctors, it is “a study document that is not at all complete,” which “has never been validated.” “This document does not permit one to take stock of the whole economic reality of steel smelting at Florange,” ArcelorMittal continued. “It in no way contradicts the conclusion that steel-smelting at Florange is unprofitable and in no way proves the profitability of that division of the steelworks, because it does not take total costs into account. In fact, it only deals with the variable expenses in the factory price without at all taking the other expenses into account. It makes no sense to suggest that ArcelorMittal would want to close down a profitable steel smelting operation.”

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