Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the steelworkers’ trade union Community, and Secretary of Tata Steel’s European Works Council, hosted a meeting with senior representatives from the Dutch steel union FNV Bondgenoten in London yesterday. The meeting came amidst reports that Tata Steel are set to shelve plans to save Port Talbot steelworks. The FNV is the lead union at Tata Steel’s Dutch strip steel business in Ijmuiden. The unions met to share their concerns about the current developments within Tata Steel Europe and what joint actions the they can take to ensure the sustainable future for the business in the best interests of steelworkers across Europe.
Speaking after the meeting, Roy Rickhuss, said:
“We are united in our determination to do all we can to ensure that Tata Steel maintains its commitment to steel making in Europe. We have a number of shared concerns about recent developments within the company, not least the fact that the CEO of Tata Steel Europe no longer sits on the board of Tata Steel in Mumbai. We will be working together to ensure that Tata Steel hears the concerns and recognises the commitment of its European employees to building a sustainable future for its European operations.
“Over the years, Tata Steel has made great play of being one company and that it is stronger with European strip operations that complement each other both inside and outside the Eurozone. We are concerned that Tata’s commitment to this model is weakening, particularly in light of worrying reports about the future of Port Talbot.
“We also have a shared agenda when it comes to calling for more action from our respective governments. The Dutch and UK governments are at the forefront of opposition to Commission proposals to end the Lesser Duty Rule, which would allow Europe to impose more punitive measures against unfairly traded Chinese steel. Our governments say steel making is ‘vital’ but they need to match their rhetoric with action such as backing more robust anti-dumping measures.”
Frits Van Wieringen, Chair of Tata Steel’s European Works Council, said:
“Our operations in Ijmuiden are more secure because they are part of a European-wide business, with Dutch and UK operations that support each other. We want that to continue and we want to see Tata Steel demonstrate its commitment to steel making in Europe. Nobody denies the company is facing challenges in a difficult global market and we are determined to do all we can to have a future. We are extremely concerned that decisions which impact on thousands of steelworkers and steel communities in the UK and the Netherlands will be taken in Mumbai without the full involvement of European steelworkers.”