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Punitive and disrespectful! Rowley rips ArcelorMittal but ‘ready to re-engage’

The following is a press release from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the decision of Luxembourg-headquartered multinational steel company, ArcelorMittal, to shut down its Point Lisas plant and simultaneously put over 600 workers out of a job:
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

It is with a sense of sadness and deep disappointment that the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago have received the news of the actions of ArcelorMittal’s decision to close the steel producing business in our country, particularly as it was done on the heels of a decision where the workers had their rights defended in a Superior Court of Record in the state of Trinidad and Tobago.

This far reaching action, taken without reference or discussion with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, affecting thousands of our citizens, we view as punitive and disrespectful in the extreme.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is very cognisant and mindful of the fact that this is a period of economic hardship and challenges in many industries all over the world.

It is precisely because of this understanding, that we as a people, have appealed to all our stakeholders to be resilient and caring for the people and their families who were there contributing in the good times and who now  require respect, support and even the milk of human kindness as the ravages of worldwide recession negatively affect us all.

Photo: A town hall meeting.
Photo: A town hall meeting.

This action is even more painful when one remembers that it was precisely in an earlier period of cyclical recession that a local steel industry, which was funded and nurtured by local taxpayers, then fell into the investment hands of Mittal, which with our continued support and sacrifice, went on to become a world power in the steel industry.

Whilst the Government cannot dictate how any company should view its investments or how it should conduct its lawful business, we fully expect that all such decisions will be made within the confines of the relevant laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

And as a corporate partner in our national development, it is our expectation that this is not the end and that there is still room for the country and the investor to talk and work our way out of these very real difficulties.

It is against this background that the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance stand ready to re-engage Arcelor Mittal on these far reaching developments.

Dr Keith Rowley,

Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

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43 comments

  1. this is rubbish . Cowboy talk from Rowley . Steel mills all around the world are closing and the reason is China has a price that no one around the world can match and they dumping steel . American mills are closing and Hillary Clinton was questioned about this on the campaign . In a global sense it does not look good for us to have a steel mill .

  2. If Arcelor Mittal is acting according to LAW, business-law & practice and government-company arrangement… how can it be …punitive and disrespectful ? To whom ? Don’t the former elements set the judgment-standard ?

  3. People this is not PNM or UNC. This is real people with real issues , real mortgage, real rent to pay, real family to feed. Let’s not politics in this , at the end of the day, some may loss , some may find alternative solution, some may move on. The Minister of Labour should have done something.

  4. Rowley come out and bark up Mittal And your minister ah labour tree

  5. She said the first letter informed her of the proposed closure of operations and the need for a meeting. Baptiste-Primus told reporters she was unable to attend the proposed meeting for March 9 because of her schedule. (Trinidad Guardian)

  6. We are so blinded by our one sided thinking. listening is an art. You don’t listen you miss a lot of information.Is it that we do not understand. We are like a choir follow the leader.of misinformation. Dr Rowley is a scientist do the math.

  7. To talk about not valuing and privatizing the steel mill shows a lack of knowledge or ignorance of the facts that led to the decision to privatize the company. ISCOTT was unable to sell its steel on the American market because of an action brought against it by the US manufacturers in other words the Government had no choice but to look for an operator. Additionally that embargo would still be in force so the idea of Government taking over the running of the mill would be disastrous

  8. Still waiting for Dr Rowley to lead from the front and declare that since the economy is struggling that he will stay the decision to increase MPs etc salary as a sign of solidarity with the rest of the country. Wonder hoe much yam that increase could purchase. Seems an increase in salary ia the only thing both parties ever agreed on…. not a peep from Kamla. Smh

  9. Minister of labour husband is a welder employed with mittal …..riddle her this

  10. So wait She did not meet with them on the day ,they wanted so blame her for this is Mrs Primus Min of Mittal.If by now we are still emotionally mix up in this politics game,some of us should play it with our mouth shut and taught hidden,Because anything else exposes our stupidty.

  11. Mr. Rowley and the Minister of Labour only talking. They not seeing the real picture. People lives are being disrupted. Why could they not reach to a amicable decision.

  12. On a scale of 1 to 10 where is the Prime Minister???

  13. The disrespectful person was the Minister of Labour who did not have the time to meet with the Company when asked to do so.

  14. Very well said Prime Minister. Hopefully this is enough evidence why we should be very careful not to sell off our national patrimony and resources. This steel factory was originally owned by the people of T&T but we didn’t value it and managed it poorly and eventually choose to privatise it. Let’s not make the same mistake with other state company. Find a way to manage them profitably and efficiently. I think we should actively seek to regain ownership of this company.

    • The plant was running at an 80 million loss when it was state owned and if they buy it back for the $1 Mittal quoted, they’ll be inheriting a $1.3 billion debt. Its the same as buying a car for $10,000 only to find that it needs $30,000 in repairs…

  15. What I found interesting is the PM essentially called them a bunch of bloodsuckers and then signed of with: Let’s talk. Lol. Talk bout a charmer. ??

    • But the PM missed where the Labour Minister said that the company requested a meeting and she was too busy to accommodate them…In the Guardian article the VP of SWUTT states “According to SWUTT’s vice-president, Ramkumar Narinesingh, the company’s managing director, Robert Bellisle, indicated in a meeting on Friday that last December, the company had sent a proposal to the Government offering the plant for sale for $1.

      “He did not say whether it was a TT or US dollar. It could have been a single dollar or a nominal fee, he did not elaborate.” This means that if Government purchases the company, it will automatically inherit the $1.3 billion debt. ”
      In the Express article the Minister received two letters from the company as stated here “She said she had received two letters from the company dated March 8.

      The first one she got on March 9, seeking a meeting on March 10.” So where’s the proposal from December?

    • Well, some clarity there would be nice. Although I still don’t know whether that was a good deal for the Gov’t. But maybe the pull out should have been anticipated.

    • Yes. The pullout was on the cards for some time now. The only surprised people were the union who didn’t see that as an option. I hope the government will not take on a liability for $1.3B.

  16. They were offered the plant for $1

  17. The government is proposing to take over the plant? What is this the 1970s again with all that ‘commanding heights of the economy’ bullshit? The steel industry worlwide is in turmoil, what possible benefit can GORTT bring to this company especially since the track record in the State sector is absolutely abysmal….this sounds sooo familiar – the State takes over failing enterprises, pumps taxpayers money into them to create cushy jobs for party supporters, company continues to fail miserably, public money is grossly wasted ….for chrissakes, this is 2016, nobody does that crap anymore, oh wait I forgot, this is TT we’re talking about ….

  18. One of the comments made is that if they cannot be successful with steel production in T&T, why should the government take it over. There are many job vacancies in other areas that would be better for T&T rather than continuing with a failed enterprise at this time.

  19. Mittal is getting what they want, public outcry so that they continue to get preferential treatment as compared to the rest of Pt Lisas when it comes to natural gas and electricity prices

  20. Did either Maxie or Jennie write that amateur release they put Keith name under? I shame.

  21. All of the issues outlined here point to why our productivity is so low. Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Finance and is there still a national productivity council? Communication could achieve so much.

  22. They also need to explain to the unions that if a company cannot be profitable then it gets to the point where it no longer exists.

  23. They need to find out why the factory couldnt get a regular supply of natural gas thus causing it to be shut down for a period.

  24. What type of regulations are in place when it comes to foreign investors ? I’d like to know.

  25. This is satire right? According to his Minister of Labour, they were well aware of the situation since both parties were in talks and couldnt reach a compromise.