U.S. Steel job cuts highlight EU sector woes

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As day breaks through smudged tram windows, Slovak workers heading to the U.S. Steel Kosice plant mull their fate after hearing the company plans to sack a fifth of them.

Some stare silently at the morning haze behind the chimneys of the sprawling communist-era factory. With 12,000 workers, it is central Europe’s largest integrated steel producer.

It is also the leading employer in this poor region of eastern Slovakia, a eurozone state of 5.4 million people heavily reliant on auto production.

With regional unemployment at around eight percent — well above the national average of 4.9 percent — the job cuts will be painful.

“Everyone’s afraid. Young people took loans. What will they do if they lose their jobs?” a mill worker with 20 years under his belt who gave his name as Jozef, asked AFP.

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