Transport strike affects Spanish steel operators: Unesid

All of Spain’s steel companies are seeing their operations affected by an ongoing transport workers’ strike leading to “serious interruptions,” Spain’s steel industry group Unesid said March 22.

“At the moment, not one manufacturer in the sector is operating normally, as plants have been obliged to either reduce or halt production due to the lack of raw materials or the ability to deliver products to clients,” the group said in a statement, without providing figures.

The latest impact was announced by Spain’s largest stainless steel maker Acerinox, which said March 22 it agreed for a temporary lay-off plan with workers at its 1.1 million mt/yr Campo de Gibraltar, Spain plant with a potential duration of one year, having already wound down production since March 9 due to the impact of high energy prices.

Spain’s steel sector is Europe’s fourth-largest behind Germany, Italy and France with production of 13.1 million mt in 2021.

A strike by transport workers that started March 14 in reaction to rising energy prices has seen its impact increase as it goes on.

“The halt in (steel) production is not only harmful to the companies, but also the workers and affects the whole supply chain … seriously damaging the whole industrial production sector,” Unesid said, as it called on the strikers to “reconsider their action.”

Besides Acerinox, ArcelorMittal in Spain said March 17 it had halted several units at its Gijon, Spain site with 4.5 milllion mt/yr capacity as the result of the transport workers’ strike, while Unesid has reported reduced rates or halts for other producers Megasa (3 million mt/yr capacity), Grupo Celsa (2.5 million mt/yr capacity), and Siderurgica Balbao (1.3 million mt/yr) among others, with the strike impact compounding the negative impact of record high energy prices during the first quarter.

Spain’s government said it will announce a raft of measures March 29 to tackle the record energy prices with the measures likely to come into force in April.

— Gianluca Baratti