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ArcelorMittal’s Workers in Kazakhstan Demand Salary Hike

Saturday 19 May 2012

ALMATY (Associated Press) – Workers at a Kazakhstan plant owned by steel giant ArcelorMittal have held a demonstration to demand higher salaries.

The company said that Saturday’s rally in the industrial town of Temirtau was legal and that an official from ArcelorMittal’s personnel department met with workers to discuss their grievances. Trade unions are seeking a 30% wage rise, but ArcelorMittal’s management says that is unfeasible and that it has to take reduced industrial output into account when considering pay increases.

According to news portal eKaraganda.kz, around 3,000 workers took part in the Temirtau demonstration.

ArcelorMittal Temirtau is the largest enterprise in Kazakhstan’s mining and smelting sector. According to Frank Pannier, CEO, ArcelorMittal in Kazakhstan, Temirtau is one of the most interesting locations for ArcelorMittal to be in. Temirtau is also the place where Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev began his professional career, working in an iron smelter in the sixties. Hence, the Kazakh leader still maintains his emotional ties to Temirtau and in 1995 asked LNM – the predecessor company of ArcelorMittal – to take charge of “his” Karmetkombinat.

ArcelorMittal Temirtau produced 3.68 million tonnes of crude steel last year, up from 3.34 million tonnes in 2010. The company is planning a $328 million capital expenditure programme this year. The mill sells more than half of its steel within the former Soviet Union, although a large portion – up to 35% – is traditionally sold to Iran, where Western sanctions on financial transactions have made it tougher to trade this year.

Any signs of industrial dispute have been greeted with intense caution in Kazakhstan since a long-running sit-in demonstration over salaries in a western oil town culminated in December in deadly riots.

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