Thyssenkrupp sets up a working group with unions over its Tata Steel merger

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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The tie-up will result in 4,000 job losses across the companies (Source: Getty)

German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp will set up a joint working group of board members and labour representatives to help implement the plan to merge with Tata Steel.

The company announced the plans following a supervisory board meeting today.

Last week, Thyssenkrupp signed a memorandum of understanding with rival Tata Steel to combine the two groups' European operations in a joint venture.

If approved, the merger will create Europe's second-largest steelmaker with combined sales of about €15bn (£13.3bn).

The working group will consist of members of the executive board of Thyssenkrupp, the executive board of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, representatives of Thyssenkrupp's works councils and the works councils of the steel sites, the company said.

It will be headed by Markus Grolms, deputy chairman of the supervisory board of Thyssenkrupp and Oliver Burkhard, member of the executive board of Thyssenkrupp and chief human resources officer of the group.

Labour representatives hold half of the 20 seats on Thyssenkrupp's supervisory board, and they have been staunchly against a deal with Tata Steel.

The tie-up will result in the loss of around 4,000 jobs shared between the two businesses.

If labour representatives vote against the deal, chairman Ulrich Lehner could tip the scales with his casting vote. However, Thyssenkrupp's chief executive Heinrich Hiesinger has set a goal of obtaining an agreement from labour members.

Unions in the UK cautiously welcomed last week's announcement.

Almost 7,000 people are employed by Tata Steel in Wales, including more than 4,000 at Britain's largest steelworks at Port Talbot.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the union Community and chair of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee said the union sought further assurances on jobs, investment and future production across the UK operations.

Aside from jobs, unions stressed Tata must demonstrate its long-term commitment to steelmaking in the UK by confirming it will invest in the crucial relining of Port Talbot's blast furnace number five.

Read more: UK seeks assurances over the future of Port Talbot after steel merger

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