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EU and U.S. trade unions call for agreement on clean steel worldwide and oppose low cost 'dirty' steel

Date

18 Oct 2023

Sections

Sustainable Dev.

EU and U.S. unions are urging the European Union and the United States to conclude their 'Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium' (GASSA) before the 31 October deadline. In a joint letter, they call for clean quality steel worldwide and oppose the production of low cost ‘dirty’ steel and aluminium, where workers’ rights and the environment are sacrificed in the race to produce the cheapest steel.

European and U.S. trade unions today issued a joint letter to their respective trade authorities, calling for a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum (GASSA) that prioritises workers, addresses non-market excess capacity and encourages decarbonisation. Leaders from the United States and Europe are meeting this week to discuss the arrangement ahead of the 31 October deadline.

The global arrangement reflects a shared commitment to using trade policy to address the threats of climate change and global market distortions. As the EU and United States establish this global arrangement, unions joined forces across the Atlantic to address common challenges in the steel and aluminium sectors and urge their leaders to put workers and communities at the centre of the trade agenda.

The unions’ joint priorities include:

Protecting workers' rights: Interested partners in GASSA must adhere to international workers' rights standards, including safe workplaces, fair pay, and a voice on the job. Compromising working conditions to stay competitive is unacceptable. Above all, the GASSA must end the current race to the bottom on wages and working condition across the steel and aluminum industries.

Promoting decarbonisation: Negotiations should focus on reducing the carbon intensity in steel and aluminum industries and encouraging global producers to adopt environmentally friendly practices. Both the U.S. and European regions have the potential to lead decarbonisation efforts in steel and non-ferrous metals.

Addressing overcapacity: Global overcapacity in steel and aluminum, both as a result of illegal government subsidies and widespread Chinese investments, continues to negatively impact domestic industries in the United States and the European Union. The agreement must limit carbon-intensive and non-market excess capacity (NMEC)* steel and non-ferrous metals in our markets.

Ending unfair state aid: Unfair state aid to industries, including illegal subsidies, must stop. Aid related to increasing environmental sustainability must have social conditionalities and must not worsen global excess capacity.

Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe Acting General Secretary says:

“Trade unions on both sides of the Atlantic stand united against the production of low cost ‘dirty’ steel and aluminium with workers’ rights being ignored in the race to the bottom of producing the cheapest steel, no matter the cost to workers’ wellbeing. We need to prioritise quality clean steel and aluminium, made by workers whose rights are respected, which also respects a fair global level playing field. We call on the European Union and the United States to come to an agreement which is good and fair both for the environment and workers.”

David McCall, USW International President says:

“Global overcapacity in steel and aluminum, largely coming out of China, poses an existential threat to workers in both the United States and Europe who play by the rules and remain committed to reducing the carbon imprint of their respective industries. We must work together if we hope to contain the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive industrial practices, eliminate illegal subsidies and ensure the long-term viability of our domestic industries.”