Steel workers stage protest demanding their jobs back

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Several dozen of KVV Liepājas metalurgs (KVV LM) employees demanded for the steelworks to resume operations in a protest staged outside the Cabinet of Ministers, reported Latvian Radio Tuesday.

The crowd held posters showcasing their demands. "We want work in Liepāja, not Ireland", "Metallurgists want to work", "Stop the indifference".

The Economics Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Greens and Farmers Union) addressed the crowd, saying that the company owners' vision over the further development of the steelworks is not clear. She also cast doubt on whether the process of selecting an investor was lead well.

One of the workers said that the Liepāja steelworks "were sold very poorly."

Others said that it's necessary to save the troubled steelworks "In order to save Metalurgs, to save the jobs, to save the normal life," a woman said.

The joint-stock metallurgical company Liepajas metalurgs temporarily halted operations on Thursday, January 28.

As reported, after KVV Liepajas Metalurgs metallurgical company had missed a payment of €2.7 million that was due to the Latvian state in late 2015, the Treasury has started drawing on its collateral within the company.

The steel plant tried to negotiate an extension of the payment deadline but failed to meet the conditions set by the government for debt rescheduling. Therefore the Treasury started drawing on the collateral provided by KVV Liepajas Metalurgs. In particular, the Treasury invoked a guarantee issued by Russia's Alfa Bank and valid until late January.

So far the government has recovered one-fifth of the amount it had paid previously to Italian bank UniCredit when the steel plant could not repay to UniCredit a state-guaranteed loan.

Despite several false dawns, production at the plant has failed to get into full swing with questions asked about the ability of its owners to effectively manage the company which is the largest employer in Latvia's third-largest city, Liepaja.

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