THE ABANDONED, DECAYED AND FORGOTTEN!

FORGES DE CLABECQ

SEPTEMBER 2008 - 58 PHOTOS
DEMOLITION IS STARTED

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Les Forges de Clabecq, a 100-year-old family firm run by the last representative of the founding family until 1995, kept out of the regroupings in the Belgian steel industry which occurred at the end of the 1970s. It then still employed 5,000 workers and had its own markets and specific products. The public authorities became shareholders in the 1980s, but left the power of decision with the private shareholders, the families and their banking groups. In 1992, a strike broke out in protest at the managements proposals to dismantle non-profitable installations and to cut jobs.

To get the Forges out of difficulty, the Walloon regional government granted a loan on the condition that the workforce accepted the management plan. The dispute ended only when the Forges union delegation was brought into the talks and the wage cuts were considered as a debt the firm would in future owe to its employees. The 1992 dispute remained in peoples memory, the Forges workers acquired the belief that they were alone in having the will to continue the struggle against the shareholders.

Bankruptcy was declared at the beginning of 1997, after the refusal of assent by the European Commission, and all the Clabecq employees were dismissed. Resources were insufficient to pay back the bank loans or pay the legal compensation and the debts owed to the workforce.

At this moment [2008] the Forges are going to be dismantled, prepared for demolition. A lot of the empty storage sheds are already in full demolition. One could spend more then a day to see everthing in detail. Keeping in mind how hard, dangerous and specialized the working conditions must have been for the workforce. Respect to the ones who have practised this specialized workflow!