British politicians representing Welsh constituencies have added their concerns to those expressed by Tata Steel’s European Work Council, over measures proposed by the company to gain the necessary regulatory approval for the ThyssenKrupp joint venture.
Their concerns centre in particular on the potential sale of the Trostre plant in Wales, that produces packaging material and is supplied by the Port Talbot steelworks.
Last month, the Employees Chairman and the Secretary of Tata Steel’s European Works Council expressed their “profound concerns” with Tata Steel’s package of remedies proposed to the European Commission directly to Tata Steel chairman Chandrasekaran, accusing the company of failing to honour agreements struck with unions.
“We are now unconvinced the joint venture is in the best interests of Tata Steel Europe,” they wrote in a statement published in late April.
An emergency meeting of the EWC is set to take place on May 10, at which the proposals will be discussed further among members of the council, while a meeting of EWC national representatives in the UK is expected to take place the following week.
Stephen Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon (home to Port Talbot) met with representatives from the company in April alongside other politicians at which they sought assurances on the future of Trostre and Port Talbot, from which a significant volume of rolled steel goes to Trostre.
“The conversation between Tata Steel, myself and other politicians was constructive and illustrated a deep commitment by all parties towards securing the long-term future of steel-making in South Wales. But it is now up to Tata Steel to deliver on these promises, by taking action to ensure production at Port Talbot does not become a victim of the joint venture,” said Kinnock in a statement on Thursday.
“This is a very worrying time for everyone at Trostre, and that’s why I was anxious to convey our very real concerns about the joint venture, and to stress that if it really does come down to selling off Trostre, then Tata Steel must secure a genuine long-term future for the plant,” said Nia Griffith, the MP for Llanelli (home to Trostre). They were joined by several members of the Welsh Assembly. In July last year, ThyssenKrupp and Tata Steel signed a definitive agreement for a 50:50 joint venture to combine their European steel business, two years after the official announcement of talks.
However, since then, the plans have faced a number of challenges, from the chairman and chief executive of ThyssenKrupp both stepping down amid criticism of the terms of the deal, as well as concerns from regulators and unions over job and plant guarantees.
The EWC covers all Tata Steel’s EU operations including in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden and Belgium. It was set up in 2000 to provide a forum to discuss issues that affected employees in the countries the company operates from financial performance to headcount and investment decisions. It meets twice a year but can hold extraordinary meetings to discuss urgent matters.
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