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“Our lives are worth more than Mittal's profits”

By Workers Party of Belgium

Workers Party of Belgium (PTB) demands nationalization of steel sector in Liège

Fight Back New Service is circulating the following statement from the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB).

The announcement of the elimination of 1,300 jobs at ArcelorMittal in Liège is a tragedy for the region. Seven out of twelve production lines will close down. After the announcement of the closure of the warm phase of steel production one year ago, Mittal now choses to reduce also the cold line production facilities to near to nothing. This concretely threatens the loss of 10,000 jobs, among direct and indirect jobs, for the whole of the Liège region.

For the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB), it is still possible to save the steel industry with all its jobs. “It is not just a possibility, it is a necessity”, explains Damien Robert, municipal councilor for the PTB at Seraing. “The politicians who pretend to support the steel workers should now take an innovative decision. Mittal doesn't want to sell? No problem. The government of the Walloon Region can decree to put the company under public ownership for reasons of social emergency and of regional and national economic interest.”

The PTB has a strong presence in the municipality of Seraing (Liège) where ArcelorMittal is located. The party obtained five seats in the municipal council in last October's local elections, largely due to the vote of the steel workers. Over the years the PTB has also developed an intense work inside the factory, and has actively shown its solidarity with the strikers.

The PTB defends the public take-over of the entire company for the symbolic price of one euro. This is the only guarantee to maintain the jobs in the steel industry, as a structural industrial enterprise in the region. Mittal has received more than enough presents thanks to the notional interests (a unique system in Belgium, allowing companies to diminish taxes on the basis of virtual interests on virtual loans). Thanks to this most questionable system, for the years 2010 through 2012, Arcelor Mittal Finance paid 0 euro in taxes in Belgium! Thus there is no need to pay whatever compensation for the take-over, according to the PTB.

The PTB warns against the French example, where part of the socialist government also spoke of the buy-out of ArcelorMittal in Florange for one symbolic euro for several months on end, to finally avoid taking any concrete steps on the pretext of not disposing of the judiciary means to do so.

PTB spokesman Raoul Hedebouw also criticizes Belgian prime minister Elio De Rupo: “It is inacceptable to hear Mr. Di Rupo speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos and praise the Belgian system of notional interests, that would supposedly promote investments and job creation, only to see him, a few minutes later, write a Tweet message of solidarity with the workers of ArcelorMittal.”

The PTB appeals on the workers and their trade unions to remain extremely vigilant about the double talk and the promises that go not beyond mere words and do not lead to the only viable decision to save the jobs and the region: the public take-over of ArcelorMittal without compensation.

#Belgium #factoryOccupation #WorkersPartyOfBelgium #Capitalism #ArcelorMittal #Europe