Representatives of U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) did not attend a session of the parliamentary economic committee on June 27 convened to discuss the only point – the current situation in the plant and ongoing layoffs.
“I decided to approach representatives of U.S. Steel to tell us what the situation is and what their plans are concerning layoffs and the sale of the company,” said committee chair Jana Kiššová of SaS and initiator of the session as cited by the TASR newswire. “Nevertheless, U.S. Steel representatives refused to come, stating that they’re a private company and they don’t need to appear at sessions of the economic committee, therefore.”
USSK continues in abolishing 29 work places each month in what it calls a response to the current situation on the steel market impacted by cheap steel imports from China. In Slovakia layoffs concerning fewer than 30 people per month in companies with more than 300 employees are not considered as mass. But Kiššová as well as trade unions see the current layoffs as at least not in line with the spirit of the memorandum USSK and the Slovak government signed back in 2013.
“We told the committee chair that a meeting would not be possible on the proposed date,” said USSK spokesperson Ján Bača in response as cited by TASR. “Nevertheless, we will gladly see MPs in our company – if a mutually suitable date is found."
Bača specified that USSK representatives meet government officials regularly in line with the Memorandum of Understanding.
“The most recent meeting took place on May 4,” said Bača.
According to Kiššová, USSK has obviously forgotten that in 2013 it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government, stipulating, inter alia, that there should be no mass layoffs within the next five years, while neither the company – nor part of it – would be sold.
Kiššová further stated that it seems as if the memo was binding only for the government, providing various financial grants, while USSK has committed itself only to a relatively modest promise of not resorting to mass layoffs and selling the firm. Meanwhile, the company has been making 29 people redundant each month for several months now.
“This borders on failing to observe their commitment, or – in my view – at least the spirit of the agreement has been violated,” said Kiššová.
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Peter Žiga told the committee that he has information that USSK wants to remain in Slovakia.
Nonetheless, Kiššová claims that USSK’s commitments in the aforementioned memo are too little.
“I asked the economy minister to draw up an analysis to show whether this investment is beneficial for Slovakia or not,” said Kiššová, adding that she was surprised to hear that the government still has not done such an analysis.
USSK, which has been operating in Slovakia for more than 16 years and has been the biggest private employer in eastern Slovakia, is struggling with imports of Chinese steel, which competitors in other countries claim are being sold at dumping prices.
28. Jun 2016 at 5:55 | Compiled by Spectator staff