Local economic slowdown drastically affecting industrial activity

Greece’s heavy industry is bracing for further setbacks as consumer demand continues to weaken. The worrying trend, forecast just weeks ago by major industrial groups for the second half of this year, is already being confirmed. According to industry estimates, sales are expected to fall by more than 50 percent in the second half of this year.

The steel and cement industries are expected to be hardest hit and, needless to say, employment levels will be affected. Just yesterday, the Volos-based steel company Sovel, operating one of Greece’s biggest industrial units, announced that workers will be given compulsory three-week breaks.

Greece’s heavy industry has been trapped in the doldrums for five years amid the deep recession. Some signs of a possible recovery emerged in 2014 and early this year, when work at stalled road-development projects had resumed for a short while. However, the Greek state has, since April, stopped making payments to companies contracted for major projects, prompting them to halt work.

The steel and cement industries had placed high hopes on the progress of road projects as a means towards recovery. But, based on the latest developments, they once again find themselves in troubling positions.

The country’s steel industry is now believed to be at a standstill. The cement industry is not much better off either as domestic demand has virtually fallen to zero levels.

Industries are relying on exports, but at high production costs as a result of pending energy-sector issues.

Highlighting the extent of the problem, even industry sector officials who normally remain reserved with their views are now describing the overall situation as bleak.

If the progress at major infrastructure works remains stagnant, then permanent job losses at industrial companies will be inevitable.