April 6, 2016 / 2:57 PM / 2 years ago

Venezuela steelmaker Sidor has been halted for weeks: union leader

CARACAS, April 6 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s main steelmaker Sidor has been shut down for 25 days, a union leader said on Wednesday, blaming the situation on the military officers who run the state-owned firm.

Sidor has not produced “a single tonne of liquid steel” this year, said Leonardo Azocar, leader of the largest union representing Sidor workers, in a telephone interview.

“The plant is paralyzed because of bad management, its not the workers’ fault,” said Azocar.

A group of Sidor workers on Wednesday marched to the headquarters of the chief prosecutors’ office to demand the resignation of its president on accusations of corruption.

Sidor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has said in the past that constant labor disputes and obsolete equipment have hindered its performance.

The steelmaker’s output has steadily declined since its 2008 nationalization by late socialist President Hugo Chavez, who bought the majority stake held by the international consortium Ternium.

Chavez four years ago named a group of military officers to lead Sidor, which is now run by General Juan Paredes. Workers accuse Paredes of corruption and mismanagement.

Production grew slightly in 2015 to reach 1.06 million tons of liquid steel, but this still represents only around 20 percent of its installed capacity of 5 million tonnes per year. (Reporting by Diego Ore, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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