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Greek Steelworks Suspends 95% of Employees

Halyvourgiki in AspropyrgosDespite trying to find ways to keep “Halyvourgiki” open, the plant’s operator had announced earlier on Thursday that he is forced to cease the majority of operations at the Greek steelworks, suspending around 95% of its employees.
The owner of the plant, which is located in the industrial area of Aspropyrgos in Athens, Konstantinos Aggelopoulos, has decided to put the majority of production on hold, maintaining only the employees involved in the trading of steel and guarding of the facility, while temporarily suspending 200 out of the total 263 steelworkers. For six weeks starting Monday, February 17 until March 31, suspended employees will receive only 50% of their regular salary, with an additional 10% provided as unemployment benefit.
During the past several months, 148 employees had already left their jobs at Halyvourgiki through voluntary early retirement schemes, while those who stayed saw their salaries cut by 20%.
According to reports, the main reason behind the suspension of the production lies in the very high energy costs, which are required for keeping the plant operational and which the company can no longer meet. In the past months, the plant operated only for night shifts, when electricity was charged at a reduced rate. Meanwhile, sales have also declined, exports have become more damaging than profitable and the obligations of the industry towards banks have increased.
Sales for 2012 were reduced by 70.62% compared to 2011, as the €194.77 million turnover in 2011 dropped to €57.23 million in 2012. In 2011, Halyvourgiki achieved exports totaling €550 million, which in 2012 dropped to €300 million, thus becoming non-profitable. The total bank obligations of Halyvourgiki currently exceed €1 billion.
The suspension of operations of Halyvourgiki comes after the closure of two other big steelworks in Greece during the last years; the company “Sovel” in Almyros, Magnisia, and “Hellenic Halyvourgia,” owned by the Manesis family, also located in Aspropyrgos.
The company’s iron rods and girders helped build the Athens metro, the Olympic stadium and the bridge linking Peloponnese to mainland Greece, giving jobs to many families living in the factory’s surrounding area. The company has seen many of its industrial facilities being shut down, as well as many lay-offs during the recent years of recession in Greece.
In their statement, the steelworkers condemned the measure of temporary suspensions and request the intervention of the government, which they characterized “unresponsive.” They asked the labor ministry to assume its responsibilities, while also seeking a meeting with the minister.

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