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11.November 2011. / Voice of Serbia

For the purpose of overcoming global crisis effects, Serbian top exporter US STEEL has announced drastic production cutdowns in its plant in Smederevo, a town in eastern Serbia.

Some 5,000 workers live in fear of dismissal or closing down of factory, which would bring some 15,000 people, namely their families to the verge of poverty. Economy and Regional Development Minister Nebojša Ćirić said that the government intends to help the US company. More from Zorica Mijušković.

US STEEL SERBIA has been working far below its real capacities and news about planned dismissals has leaked from Pittsburgh, PA, the seat of the US STEEL company. The fear of the employees and their families is justified. The management in Serbia are consdering measures that could be taken in order to improve the position of US STEEL SERBIA. The Serbian government is also investing efforts at having each employee in the steel works keep their job. Economy and Regional Development Minister Nebojša Ćirić said it was very important for the state that all the 5,000 work positions should be kept as they represent the basic source of income for as many families. The companies is facing difficulties in its work due to the present situation at the world steel market. At the moment, our government cannot speak of any concrete measures to be taken, said Ciric.

A gentlemen’s agreement has been reached, mostly due to a state intervention and a reduction of local and municipal fees. In the future, US STEEL will be charged only half a dinar per square meter daily, which it uses for business purposes. The Smederevo City Council has reduced the fee, which used to be 100 dinars per square meter, in order that the company should cut down on expenses and keep all the workers. The company’s annual liability, based on ecology and environment protection fees, has been reduced from 100 million dinars to two and a half million dinars.

US STEEL SERBIA employs some 5,400 workers, 5,000 of whom in Smederevo. Before the 2006 redundancy programme, it had 8,500 workers. The economic crisis has reduced the demand for steel and tin at the world market. Last year, production was reduced to 1.2 million tons, whereas capacities are twice as big. The average income, including that of the management, amounts to over 50,000 dinars, but most production workers receive a monthly salary ranging from 25,000 to 40,000 dinars.

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