June 19, 2020 / 11:44 AM / 15 days ago

Dutch Tata Steel workers halt production at IJmuiden

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Employees at Tata Steel’s Dutch factory in IJmuiden halted production for at least 24 hours on Friday, as they continued to protest about planned job cuts at the site.

Employees cut the supply of iron ore to the two blast furnaces at IJmuiden, forcing them to be shut down completely, FNV labour union spokesman Roel Berghuis said.

The action was the most serious yet since strikes began on June 10, and Berghuis said protests would continue on a daily basis as long as Tata remained unwilling to discuss workers’ demands.

Unions say Tata aims to cut more than 1,000 of the 9,000 jobs at IJmuiden to improve the profitability of its European steel business.

Tata Europe says it does not plan forced redundancies, but unions are demanding more guarantees for the future of IJmuiden, including an end to plans to further integrate Dutch and British activities.

Tata Steel Europe head Henrik Adam, however, said he had no intention of changing course.

“It is inevitable to look at the cost of labour and jobs”, he said in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, published on Friday.

“To remain competitive in a crowded European market, we have to be among the best-in-class.”

Tata Steel Europe has said it will present its updated transformation plans after July 1. It had put the reorganisation on hold earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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