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Staff frown at Thyssen JV

The two companies had agreed last year to combine their European steel activities
'We are now unconvinced the joint venture is in the best interests of Tata Steel Europe'
'We are now unconvinced the joint venture is in the best interests of Tata Steel Europe'
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Reuters   |   Berlin   |   Published 01.05.19, 06:39 PM

European workers at India’s Tata Steel no longer believe that a joint venture with Thyssenkrupp is in the best interests of the company, the European works council said in a statement.

The two companies agreed last year to combine their European steel activities, a move that would create the continent’s second-largest steelmaker but still needs approval from the European Commission, which plans to take a decision by June 17.


At a meeting with Tata chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Works Council chairman Frits van Wieringen confirmed that workers do not support a package of remedies designed to win the support of the European Commission.

“We are now unconvinced the joint venture is in the best interests of Tata Steel Europe. We believe that the agreements we reached with the Tatas are not being honoured,” the works council said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The works council said Chandrasekaran told them Tata hopes to gain their support during a consultation period, but they told him that might not be possible because of the seriousness of the workers’ reservations.

The works council added it will call an emergency meeting on May 10, while British representatives will also seek to meet.

Workers at Thyssenkrupp, who have long been critical of the deal, last year gave their consent in exchange for far-reaching guarantees, including job and plant protection until 2026.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that the companies saw limited scope in improving their remedy offer should the Commission deem it insufficient.

Thyssenkrupp union

In February this year, labour leaders, who hold half the seats on Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, had said they would not support the joint venture with Tata Steel if concessions in the ongoing anti-trust proceedings go too far.

“We won’t support a merger at any price,” Markus Grolms, vice-chairman of Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board and secretary at IG Metall, Germany’s biggest labour union, had told Reuters.

“We have always defined a red line with regard to the merger control proceedings. If this line is crossed, we won’t give our support,” Grolms said, without saying where the line would be drawn.

The steel joint venture is a key part of Thyssenkrupp’s transformation plan, which also includes a planned spin-off of its elevator, car parts and plant engineering units to form a separately listed entity.

In December last year, Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp named the team who will lead the management board that will run the proposed European steel joint venture between the two companies.

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