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The CGT Calls Mittal’s London Olympic Honors "Obscene"

Translated Thursday 26 July 2012, by Stephan Crown-Weber and reviewed by Derek Hanson

Yesterday, several Belgian metalworkers unions shared their disgust with the International Olympic Committee after it gave Lakshmi Mittal and his son permission to carry the Olympic flame. Following suit, the General Confederation of Labor’s local branch in Florange is accusing ArcelorMittal of trying to “bolster its image” with a “marketing campaign” that has spent upwards of 18 million euros on the “Orbit” Tower, a symbol of the London Olympics.

“With this tower...Mittal is buying the right to bolster its image, tarnished by the conflicts in Florange and Liege [Belgium],” the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) claims in a statement. It finds the world steel industry leader’s spending “obscene” “at a time when [ArcelorMittal’s] production has stopped or gone idle at our plant and others throughout Europe.” The group decided to close its blast furnaces in Liege while its operations in Florange have been idle since the fall of 2011.

Erected for the Olympic Games in Stratford in London’s East End, the tower now christened “The ArcelorMittal Orbit” stands 115 meters, between Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre. The arrestingly twisted building, made from 1400 tons of tubular steel and designed by British sculptor Anish Kapoor, cost 21 million euros, 18 million from Arcelor Mittal and the remaining three million from the Greater London Authority. “While the Group makes deep cuts to its industrial base across Europe, from Spain to the Czech Republic, destroying thousands of jobs in the process...this achievement gives the Mittal family the chance to carry the Olympic flame,” the CGT’s statement continues.

According to the official site of the 2012 Olympic Games, Lakshmi Mittal, the head of ArcelorMittal, as well as his son Aditya are slated to carry the flame through the London districts of Kensington and Chelsea on Thursday, on the eve of the Games’ opening ceremony. Meanwhile, the CGT revealed that children would carry a symbolic Olympic torch several kilometers from the steel mill in Florange to the two blast furnaces in Hayange.

Tuesday, several Belgian metalworkers unions expressed their “disgust” to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which has allowed Mittal to carry the Olympic flame. “Since Lakshmi Mittal became the world’s leader in steel, he has promptly laid off close to 70,000 workers” around the world, the unions wrote in a letter addressed to IOC’s President, Jacques Rogge.

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