We would like to recognise the resilience and flexibility of our global workforce, whose health and well-being is our first priority. Where possible, employees are working remotely from home. Where assets continue to operate, we are following the recommendations from government as well as the World Health Organisation. We appreciate this brings new challenges for everyone and are working together as a community to support each other through these unprecedented times.
These are unprecedented times. Starting in Asia, Europe is now the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases also increasing exponentially in America. The virus is also starting to present itself in many other countries, including those in which ArcelorMittal operates, with cases set to increase. And indeed it seems likely that countries that have not so far been significantly impacted may be soon.
From a practical point of view, ArcelorMittal is following World Health Organisation guidelines and is implementing the recommendations and instructions of governments in the countries where we operate. Communications regarding the steps that our people can take personally to protect themselves, their families and colleagues have been distributed and will continue to be emphasised company-wide. Those employees who are able to work from home are doing so. In terms of our facilities, we are attempting to keep plants operating so we can still meet remaining customer demand, while also guaranteeing the wellbeing of our employees and minimising the risk of exposure. I am pleased to say also that many of our units are taking positive actions, offering their skills and facilities to the relevant authorities to help mitigate this crisis.
Now let me address the emotional aspect. Of course, we are all concerned. None of us have ever experienced anything like this. But I am certain that the global community, and ArcelorMittal, will come through it together. Scientists are working hard to find a vaccine. And while there is encouraging news from regions where the virus first appeared of cases decreasing, in many regions we still must go through a period of tougher measures that will be difficult and unpleasant. We should remember that these are being designed to help accelerate our path through this with as little impact as possible, particularly on the elderly and most vulnerable, ensuring we can return to normality as soon as possible.
As a company and as a community, ArcelorMittal is strong. We have worked over these past few years to build our strength and so I am sure that this will stand us in good stead to weather this current crisis, as we have successfully weathered crises in the past. I am in very regular contact with our leadership teams around the world, and they are all working hard to ensure we take the right decisions for the wellbeing of our people and of our plants.
I hope that in a matter of months the world will have passed through the worst and we will be resuming our lives as before. In the meantime, with social contact also disrupted, I encourage everyone in the ArcelorMittal community – internal and external – to find ways to stay in touch with friends, families and colleagues. In this regard, we are very fortunate with the technology we now have at our fingertips. I know that I rely on this technology to stay in touch with my friends and family, I am sure you are doing the same.
Lakshmi N. Mittal
Chairman and CEO
Supporting our employees
Statement from Bart Wille, executive vice president, head of human resources
Since our creation, the health, safety and well-being of our workforce has been ArcelorMittal’s number one priority. Today, given the unprecedented global health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, that pledge has never been more important.
Having seen how quickly the virus has spread across the globe, it is unlikely that any country or individual will be immune to its impact. Indeed, the virus is present in all the countries where we produce steel. The challenge and responsibility we therefore have, to ensure the safety and well-being of our near 200,000 strong workforce, is paramount.
We are of course rigorously adhering to guidelines and recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the governments of the countries in which we operate. Moreover, we have implemented many measures at all our operating sites to proactively address health concerns and limit the possibility of the virus spreading. These include ensuring we have sufficient supplies of sanitation products and essential personal protective equipment, strictly following social distancing procedures, conducting enhanced and regular cleaning operations and monitoring the health of our employees when they enter and exit work premises.
We have also temporarily closed many offices, with people working from home under lockdown conditions which prevent them from leaving their homes aside for daily exercise and essential trips. This loss of social contact creates new challenges, and we are taking the time to listen to and understand our people’s concerns and provide them with the support, advice and guidance they need as they adjust to new and unusual working conditions.
Looking externally, the way our people and our operations are supporting the societal response to the pandemic is a source of great pride. Efforts have focused on collaborating to address the lack of required safety and medical equipment, using our global networks to facilitate the transfer of equipment to regions which are in most need and financial donations to healthcare facilities in our communities. We have also leveraged our research and development skills, designing and 3D printing ventilators and face shields, the latter of which are already in use by healthcare professionals and our steelworkers.
I am extremely proud of the collaborative and supportive efforts I have seen emerge from our employees in response to this crisis. The challenge we all face is unprecedented. But I believe the spirit and resilience I have seen amongst our people is the response we need to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, as we have overcome challenging periods before. My deep gratitude goes to them all.
Supporting our communities and society
ArcelorMittal begins 3D printing ventilators and face shields in the fight against coronavirus. Watch the video from our colleagues in research and development to hear about the projects they are involved in: