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ArcelorMittal says offer still stands
ArcelorMittal hasn’t scheduled any further meetings with the Government but its offer to sell the plant for a nominal sum remains on the table, managing director Robert Bellisle has told the T&T Guardian through a spokesman. He was responding to questions following a meeting with Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus on Monday.
At Monday’s meeting, Baptiste-Primus said ArcelorMittal intends to trigger an insolvency process. A liquidator is expected to be appointed by April 5. Bellisle’s spokesman said the meeting with the Labour Ministry was fruitful as company officials were able to take the minister “through in detail the reasons which have necessitated the plant’s closure.”
The spokesman said ArcelorMittal remains “open and willing to continue the dialogue with the Government and our proposal of selling the asset to the Government for a nominal amount remains on the table. In the meantime, however, we will be proceeding with the insolvent liquidation (sic) of the company based on the state of the business.”
Steel Workers’ Union vice president Ramkumar Narinesingh said the union has to “police” the situation intensely in the countdown to April 5 to ensure all obligations to workers are met. He said after April 5, insolvency will be triggered and the company will no longer have any responsibility, and workers’ considerations will come last in the list of matters that have to be concluded.
Narinesingh said ArcelorMittal cancelled workers’ medical plan as of last Friday when the terminations were announced.
“What remains for us is the pension and savings plans and those involve funds that employees put in which must now be returned to them, so ArcelorMittal shouldn’t have a problem concluding this. SWUTT is writing the company on this,” he said
Commenting on the Government’s plan to assist retrenched workers by matching private sector vacancies with skills, Narinesingh said while the relief plan is appreciated, the Government needs to consider that ArcelorMittal workers have a special skill set. He said the Government must also ensure that workers over age 50 are catered for as it may be a challenge to find suitable jobs for them.
Narinesingh said the same applies to retrenched Centrin and TubeCity workers which, added to the ArcelorMittal workers, make a total of almost 2,500 steelworkers with special skills.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert was unavailable to comment on how he might respond to the offer from ArcelorMittal to buy the steel plant. However, Government sources said the purchase wasn’t feasible since only the wire rods aspect of the facility might be viable.