Posted: Fri 2nd Sep 2016

Tata must urgently set out its UK plans say unions

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 2nd, 2016

Unions have told Tata Steel management they have lost the trust and confidence of the UK workforce.

Representatives from Community, Unite and GMB met with Tata Steel management in London on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing situation with the proposed ThyssenKrupp merger and the British Steel Pension Scheme.

It’s been over five months since Tata first announced it wanted to dispose of its UK steel making business yet unions say steelworkers and their families are even less clear about their future now.

“The delayed sales process, the prospect of Tata remaining and now the proposed merger with ThyssenKrupp have all served to create uncertainty for Tata’s loyal workforce and the wider industry.” a joint statement on behalf of the unions represented at the meeting says.

In early July, Tata said it was cancelling the proposed sale of its UK business bidding as the company looked to for a possible joint venture with German producer Thyssenkrupp.

Thyssenkrupp is pushing for consolidation in the European market as the steel industry struggles with overcapacity, worsened by Chinese exports flooding the market.

One insider said “The meeting is now postponed to next Wednesday, where we hope to get more details and information regarding the talks with Thyssenkrupp,”

British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS).

During the meeting, Tata made it clear that the previous proposals to amend pension scheme benefits in order to avoid entering the Pension Protection Fund now appeared ‘difficult to deliver.’

“This leaves the BSPS facing the very real possibility of being dumped entirely into the Pension Protection Fund as part of Tata’s plan to divest its UK assets.” unions say.

Trade unions involved have previously made it clear that such an outcome would be unacceptable.

Tata management expressed a desire to explore other options for the BSPS, however the unions are clear that no such further discussions can take place until Tata clearly sets out its long term commitment to the UK industry.

Protests.

Thyssenkrupp is to intensify talks with its employees in an effort to resolve a dispute over the planned Tata joint venture as fears any merger will see plants close across Europe

Several thousand workers marched in protest at management’s plans on Wednesday and labor representatives refused to approve a new management structure, part of a five-year program to improve the performance of Thyssenkrupp’s steel business amid worsening markets.

In an attempt to ease the tension, the two sides have agreed to set up a task force that will discuss the new organisational structure and present a progress report by the end of September, Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe said in a statement on Thursday.

Employees working at Tata Steel in the Netherlands will be holding large demonstrations at a steel mill in IJmuiden over the next few weeks to show their dissatisfaction over a possible merger with ThyssenKrupp as up to 4 thousand jobs could be lost in any future tie up.

A Union representative at IJmuiden said:

“The union and employee participation are completely sidelined in discussions about a possible merger. It is ridiculous that decisions are made over the heads of employees on the future of Tata Steel in Europe and IJmuiden.”

Over 11 thousand people work at Tata Steel in the Netherlands.

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