BRUSSELS (AP) -- Steelworkers' unions on Monday said tensions were rising at ArcelorMittal European plants over the company's production freeze.
The world's largest steel maker is halving output in the second quarter while demand remains low from construction, car makers and other major steel users.
It has idled several plants, laid off temporary staff and offered voluntary redundancy to 9,000 of its 315,000 staff around the world.
So far it has not made major job cuts, insisting work stoppages are temporary and it will maintain plant machinery to allow a restart when steel sales pick up.
The European Metalworkers' said these words aren't matched by action because management had walked out of talks with unions on relaunching blast furnaces in Liege, southern Belgium.
It said this "risks heightening the social tension at local level," calling on the company to return to the negotiating table with a clear plan on maintaining plants and readying for a restart.
ArcelorMittal had no immediate comment.
Shareholders hold their annual general meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
The European steel federation says that one in six steel workers have lost their jobs or are working shorter hours since the start of the economic crisis. It claims some 72,000 jobs or 17 percent of the European Union's 440,000-strong steel work force have been hit by the downturn.