Thyssenkrupp Seeks To Ease Dispute With Steel Workers

2 September 2016

Thyssenkrupp agreed to intensify talks with its European steel workers in an effort to resolve a dispute over plans to merge the division with Tata Steel and possibly close plants.

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 organizational structure and present a progress report by the end of September, Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe said in a statement on Thursday.

Wilhelm Segerath, who represents the works council on Thyssenkrupp's supervisory board, told Reuters that the group would discuss whether consolidation and restructuring were necessary at all, as well as Thyssenkrupp's compliance with existing labor agreements.

"But we have to keep the antennas tuned. If there is no agreement then there will be further protests," Segerath said.

Thyssenkrupp has its 19th century roots in steelmaking but the sector is now being hit by lacklustre demand and cheap imports from China. Labor representatives fear the group wants to exit the sector at any cost, under pressure from activist investor Cevian, which owns a 15 percent stake in it.

Thyssenkrupp labor leaders have said that any plan to close some plants could go ahead, irrespective of whether there is a merger deal with Tata Steel.


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