A French minister said today that he wants to kick the world's biggest steelmaker out of the country, accusing it of lying to the government.
Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg was reflecting an already tense relationship between France's political leadership and steel giant ArcelorMittal.
The company said in October that it would shut down a profitable blast furnace in Florange in north-east France.
But following sustained worker protests the company gave the French government 60 days to find a new owner.
The government has raised the prospect of nationalisation to resolve the dispute.
Mr Montebourg threatened last week to nationalise the site unless ArcelorMittal co-operated in government efforts to try to secure its future.
But co-operation has evidently not been forthcoming and Mr Montebourg told business daily Les Echos today that "we don't want Mittal in France anymore because they haven't respected France."
The trouble "isn't the furnaces in Florange, it's Mittal" and the company's "lies since 2006 are overwhelming," he said.
Stakes in the standoff are high. In France alone, the company has more than 20,000 employees at about 150 sites.
A big French steelworkers' union pressed for the government to nationalise the threatened plant.
Force Ouvriere said "this is the only solution for this strategic activity for France."
Unions fear that shutting the blast furnace will lead to other closures throughout the steel industry.
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