Strikes shake EU stainless steel mills
Strikes shake EU stainless steel mills

13 February 2024 – Several EU stainless steel mills are acutely affected by strikes. While there have been repeated strikes in Finland for several weeks, some lasting several days, stainless steel workers in Cadiz, Spain, are on indefinite strike. This is affecting millions of tons of stainless steel capacity in the EU. While imports into the EU have fallen to a historic low due to absurd market protection investigations in Brussels.

Strikes shake EU stainless steel mills

The major European stainless steel mills in northern and southern Europe are currently facing strikes and work stoppages and, as if we already knew it, this shows quite clearly that it doesn’t even take external influences to shake up the fragile supply situation for stainless steel in Europe. Perhaps, even if it is only a pious wish, the Commission in Brussels will turn on the little bit of brain left, if there is any to be found before the end of the current term of office, and stop playing patronage politics at the expense of the European economy.

Finland and Spain on continuous strike since weeks

While there have been repeated strikes and work stoppages in Finland since December 2023, including at Outokumpu Stainless and most recently at the Group’s own port operator and logistics service provider in Tornio, Spain is facing an indefinite strike by steelworkers in Cádiz, which is now entering its second week. The Spanish manufacturer’s port is also affected. An end is not yet in sight, especially in the wage dispute that has been smouldering between the Spanish parties since the beginning of 2023.

Several million tons of melt shop capacity affected by strikes

This means that several million tons of melt shop capacity in Europe are blocked for the time being and the supply options for flat rolled stainless steel in coil and sheet are significantly restricted. In addition, the main driver and plaintiff behind the ongoing anti-circumvention proceedings against stainless steel recently referred to historically low imports to Europe in its latest quarterly report.

Thorsten Gerber, CEO of the Gerber Group, said today: “What’s all this crap in Brussels? Could they please wake up and use the rest of their intelligence for something useful. But there’s probably not much of it left in Brussels and what’s left has already moved on to new positions in the steel lobby.”

When asked about Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Mauritania and her comments on possible exports of hydrogen and green steel to the EU, Thorsten Gerber continued: “This is yet another perfect example of when a lack of intelligence and foresight is combined with arrogance and something like this is said on a day when a Safeguard Review has been written in the Official Journal of the EU.”

Update 19 Februar 2024 – Strikes in Finland and Spain continue

Strike at Spanish stainless steel mill continues. Court should now decide on legality of strike.

Finnish Outokumpu group also went on strike again last week at its sites in Tornio and Kemi. Work stoppages affected stainless steel and chrome production, among others.

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