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Steelworkers urge EU protection against imports

European steel workers take part in a protest outside the European Commission in Brussels on November 9, 2016, against the import of low priced Chinese steel. (Photo by AFP)

Steelworkers from across the European Union have held a protest in front of the EU headquarters in Brussels to demand protection, as cheap foreign import mostly from China keeps threatening job security in the industry.

The protesters on Wednesday urged the EU to impose tough restrictions on steel imports from China and adopt better regulations for the market.

Reports said at least 5,000 people from various EU countries attended the demonstration.

Recent studies show that an estimated 330,000 people are working in Europe’s steel factories, the lowest in the history of the industry in the continent. That comes as many think Europe owes its industrial revolution to the boom in steel production.

The European Union has moved to adopt policies that could prevent the import of cheap products to its market. The aim is to cut the flow of steel from China, which has swamped the European markets at dumping prices.

Luc Triangle, the general secretary of Industrial Europe union, said the EU must do more to ensure the rights of the steelworkers were protected.

"You cannot throw workers in the arena of globalization without any protection," Triangle added.

EU Competitiveness Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said the policies were meant to create a fair competition in the European steel market, noting, "Free trade must be fair, and only fair trade can be free."

Workers have already staged mass protests in developed EU countries such as Germany, saying the widening trend of cheap imports from China and a global oversupply of the product have already created many uncertainties about the prospects of the industry.

About 50,000 steel workers attended such rallies in three German cities, including the capital Berlin, in April, denouncing the EU's unfair environmental regulations.

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