Group demands measures to stem steel jobs 'devastation'

Adam Wakefield, News24

Johannesburg - A group consisting of representatives from labour, business and industry associations have demanded several measures from government to stem an imminent jobs "bloodbath" in the steel sector.

This followed a joint approach by labour, business and industry associations to government on Friday, where they sought a "firm commitment to reassess their policies which are contributing to sweeping away jobs in the steel industry".

Solidarity metal industry head Marius Croucamp, reading a joint statement to media in Johannesburg on Monday, said: "The meeting was significant in relation to the fact that we had approached government with one voice, irrespective of our differences."

They concluded a 10-page submission in which they outlined their "collective call for government to urgently address the current crisis in the steel industry, failing which we will be faced with a disastrous and devastating impact on our economy".

The stakeholders were the United Association of South Africa, the Metal and Electrical Workers Unions of SA, ArcelorMittal, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, Evraz Highveld Steel, Cape Gate, the Scaw Metals Group, Macsteel Coil Processing and Solidarity.

The core demands the group made in their submission included:

- Immediate trade remedies for steel;

- Urgent roll-out of government's infrastructure programmes;

- Transparency of current state-owned enterprises' capital programmes;

- Monitoring of imports;

- Banning of steel scrap exports; and

- Establishing a steel crisis committee.
They said while their approach to government would not fix short-term problems, in the long term their proposed remedies would have the desired effect.