BUSINESS IN SHORT

U.S. Steel offers severance deals

U.S. STEEL Košice, the biggest private employer in Slovakia, is encouraging its employees to leave or re-qualify for other positions.

U.S. STEEL Košice, the biggest private employer in Slovakia, is encouraging its employees to leave or re-qualify for other positions.

The company wants to make 15 percent of its staff in the technical and economic support areas redundant by summer, meaning that about 450 of its 3,000 managerial and administrative employees should voluntarily leave, the Hospodárske Noviny (HN) daily reported.

“There is no mass layoff here,” said U.S. Steel spokesman Juraj Bača to HN, adding that the employees will be offered an interesting severance pay package if they decide to leave. Those who prefer to stay will get an opportunity to re-qualify for blue-collar positions.

U.S. Steel Košice was granted 10 years of tax holidays when the American company bought the Košice facility and entered the Slovak market, saving it over USD400 million (around €312 million).

In return it is obliged to maintain the level of employment and is not allowed to lay off employees until 2010. U.S. Steel Košice today employs 14,000 people.

According to HN, overall production at U.S. Steel Košice has dropped by 50 percent year-on-year, and for some products, by as much as 60 percent.

The company has already taken several measures to combat the economic downturn: it shortened the working week by one day, limited its cooperation with external partners, and restricted the purchase of services.

“We continuously compare our effectiveness with other companies in the steelmaking sector,” Bača told HN. “The winner is the one who can produce the best quality products with the lowest costs.

Our aims remain the same, we are determined to maintain our business and overcome the crisis.”
There have been changes in some managerial posts at U.S. Steel Košice too.

Matthew Perkins was named the vice president and general director of U.S. Steel Serbia and his previous post of vice president for production in Košice was assumed by Patrick Mullarkey. Vladimír Jacko was promoted to the post of the vice president for technology, HN reported.

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