An Algerian court has decided that a strike at Luxembourg-based metals giant ArcelorMittal’s El-Hadjar steel facility in Algeria is illegal and employees should return to work, the company tells MEED.

An ArcelorMittal spokesperson confirms that 95 per cent of the plant’s 7,200 workforce walked out at the facility due to claims over the steel giant not following steel industry pay guidelines.

The remaining 5 per cent had to remain at work to maintain the plant’s furnaces, which could suffer damage if they are switched off.

“The strike started on June 20 and brought the plant production to a halt,” an ArcelorMittal spokesman says.  “Yesterday afternoon [21 June] we sought an injunction from the Algerian courts and we got one. The courts have ordered the strike to be illegal and called for it to be halted.”

A valid collective pay agreement has been in place at the plant place since 2002, the spokesman says. The union wants to instigate a collective pay convention in place at similar facilities in the rest of the country at the El-Hadjar plant.

The El-Hadjar plant is located at Annaba in eastern Algeria. The facility produced around 750,000 tonnes of steel in 2009. The ArcelorMittal spokesman confirms that this is much lower than the plant’s actual capacity.

ArcelorMittal has put its plans to build a 5 million t/y steel plant at Jijel in Algeria on hold while it concentrates on other projects in areas like Brazil and India. The company has also entered into negotiations with Egyptian authorities over a planned $340m steel plant (MEED 16:06:10).