German union accepts Thyssenkrupp-Tata Steel guarantees ahead of planned merger

Frankfurt Am Main: German workers on Monday approved their union's results in talks with Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp's steel division ahead of a planned merger -- but the vote does not remove all obstacles to the tie-up.

Some 92.2 percent of IG Metall members polled agreed to executives' guarantee not to slash jobs or close major sites until at least September 2026 if the fusion succeeds, the union said in a statement.

"We managed to clear up important points in favour of the employees," said Detlef Wetzel, who sits on ThyssenKrupp Steel's supervisory board as a worker representative.

Nevertheless, workers' acceptance of the guarantees does not mean the deal can immediately go ahead.

"Only the supervisory board can decide that, and it's far from certain whether worker representatives will agree," Wetzel continued.

Picture courtesy: Reuters

Picture courtesy: Reuters

IG Metall has commissioned expert studies on whether the merged companies would be economically viable, it said.

ThyssenKrupp and Tata's tie-up would create a firm with combined annual sales of around 15 billion euros ($18.6 billion) and 48,000 employees, second only to ArcelorMittal in Europe.

The firms say a fusion is necessary to combat chronic overcapacity in an industry roiled by a flood of subsidised Chinese steel.

While the merger will allow for economies of scale and other savings, the firms warned in December it will also lead to some 4,000 job cuts that will be shared roughly evenly between the two groups.

Three of ThyssenKrupp's sites in Germany's historic industrial heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia are only guaranteed to remain open until 2021 under the deal.

But if the merger is completed, ThyssenKrupp -- a sprawling group that also makes products ranging from car parts to elevators and submarines -- has also said it will invest "at least" 400 million euros per year in its German steel works and retain workers' voting rights on the supervisory board.

Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 08:16 AM

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