Steel workers occupy ArcelorMittal factory in France


Workers demonstrate at the world's largest steel maker Arcelor Mittal plant of Florange, eastern France.


Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

French steel workers have decided to join the occupy movement.

About 200 workers at an idled ArcelorMittal plant in northeastern France occupied their factory today, Reuters reported.

The workers are hoping to bring attention to plant closures they fear could cost them their jobs. They plan "to install a tent village at the site, imitating the 'Occupy' anti-capitalist movement," Reuters said.

The occupation comes as industrial jobs have emerged as a major issue in an upcoming French presidential election.

A pledge to energize the French economy and boost employment helped get President Nicolas Sarkozy elected, but as he faces reelection the jobs he promised have yet to emerge.

France has lost 763,000 industrial jobs over the past decade - nearly half of them since Sarkozy took office in 2007, Reuters noted.

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ArcelorMittal temporarily shutdown furnaces at the factory as demand weakened last year. About 3,000 employees were laid-off with no immediate prospects for reemployment with the company, RFI reported. The company last week said it would prolong the temporary shutdowns.

Workers fear the longer furnaces stay idle, the more likely it is that the facility will be permanently closed, Reuters said.

ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, is looking to trim operating costs after posting steep losses in the last quarter.