ArcelorMittal Méditerranée will not stop its Fos-sur-Mer blast furnaces (Bouches-du-Rhône). The administrative court of Marseille suspended, Thursday, July 6, the decision of the departmental direction of employment, labor and solidarity which imposed a temporary stoppage of the steel department of the factory. This unprecedented procedure against the steel giant was taken on June 19 to remedy the “persistence of a dangerous situation” for the employees of this workshop, potentially exposed, according to the labor inspectorate, “ to substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction” (CMR).
ArcelorMittal sent a request for interim release on June 30, considering, among other arguments, that the decision to stop was ” disproportionate », “affected by a procedural defect” And ” did not take into account the new protective measures put in place “. And in particular its new version of the action plan requested by the labor inspectorate, validated on June 29 by the social and economic committee and the company’s occupational medicine.
If she recalls that “serious irregularities” were indeed noted by the representatives of the administration during an inspection in April 2023 and that the “diligence implemented” by the factory management are “late », the judge in chambers of the administrative court agrees with most of ArcelorMittal’s arguments. She thus notes that “the company has already implemented a certain number of measures and proposes [dans son plan d’action] measures prescribed by the labor inspector”. For it, maintaining the decision to stop therefore constitutes “a serious and manifestly illegal attack on the freedom of enterprise ».
“The immediate purchase of several hundred ventilated masks, the cleaning of dust by a specialized company, the installation of foggers, the sealing checks of certain installations…” are, for the judge, as many elements showing that the remarks of the administration were taken into account.
The court also agreed with ArcelorMittal, which accused the labor inspectorate of having skipped a step in the procedure. To be admissible, the decision to cease activity should have been preceded by a “formal notice” asking the company to apply protective measures within a specific timeframe.
“Real and serious danger” for employees
At the hearing, Wednesday, July 5, the steel group had weighed before the administrative court the weight of “ major consequences on the economic situation of the company but also of the entire local basin” in the event of a temporary shutdown. Repercussions which would exceed, according to the lawyer of the company Me Jean-Benoît Lhomme, the regional territory, and would weaken other customers such as “ car manufacturers who produce just in time”. In its conclusions, ArcelorMittal, which directly employs 2,600 employees in Fos-sur-Mer and hosts 1,400 subcontractors, evaluated the daily cost of maintenance of the plant in the event of a shutdown at 1.3 million euros. . And his shortfall at 2.2 million euros per day. Either “for a period of three months, economic damage estimated at 100 million euros”, precise Me The man. So many elements taken into account by the judge in chambers when estimating the urgency to rule.
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