April 22, 2024

Thyssenkrupp workers want pledges on investment, jobs ahead of steel business revamp

DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Thyssenkrupp workers on Friday drew up a list of conditions for a potential sale of the group’s steel business, including a commitment on investments and job protection.

Talks over the future of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, Germany’s largest steelmaker, have heated up with the division’s management currently working on a revamp plan to tackle overcapacity, high costs and cheap Asian competition.

There are fears that the business’s 27,000 jobs as well as the 11.5 million tonnes of annual production capacity will be ripe for cuts when the plans are discussed in the relevant committees in mid-April.

IG Metall, Germany’s biggest union that wields significant control over strategic matters at Thyssenkrupp, said whatever is decided for the steel business there must be a clear future plan, including investment commitments.

“Things look bad for Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, and the IG Metall trade union and works council are aware of this,” IG Metall said in a handout to workers dated March 1.

The union also said that the car industry, the biggest customer group for Thyssenkrupp’s steel, was under pressure.

The prospect of major restructuring coincides with efforts by Thyssenkrupp to win Czech energy firm EPH as a 50% co-owner of the steel division, with sources saying last month that negotiations slowed because of lengthy talks with Thyssenkrupp’s automotive customers.

IG Metall has called a general meeting for April 30 to air its frustration over what it fears could be painful cuts, saying Thyssenkrupp needs to provide financial support to the division in any sale to make sure the business can be competitive on its own.

“We are not releasing the parent group from its responsibility,” said Detlef Wetzel, labour representative and deputy supervisory board chairman of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff, Editing by Rachel More and Jane Merriman)

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