Thursday, March 14, 2013
Halting Blast Furnace Won't Hurt Jobs: Nippon Steel Pres
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. (5401) will retain workers after it shuts one of three blast furnaces at its Kimitsu steelworks, President Hiroshi Tomono told a news conference Wednesday.
Excerpts from the news conference follow.
Q: What led to the decision to shut down the blast furnace at the Kimitsu mill?
A: The site serves two roles. It produces steel needed in-house and supplies intermediary goods to other steelworks. We concluded that supplies for the latter wouldn't be needed as much owing to the merger (between Nippon Steel Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd.), resulting in the decision to shut down the No. 3 blast furnace.
Q: What will happen to personnel freed up by the closure?
A: There's a vast number of tasks at the mill and surrounding areas, so we'll have workers transferred to those first. There will be those who retire as well. If we can't absorb the workers internally, we may move them to other roles. But we'll make doubly sure to preserve jobs and will hold discussions with labor.
Q: Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal's new medium-term business plan does not contain a sales target.
A: Considering recent sudden changes in the business environment, it's not realistic to put sales first in our thinking. Instead, we'll focus on the ratio of pretax profit to sales, targeting a figure of at least 5%.
(The Nikkei, March 14 morning edition)