April 9, 2018 / 12:03 PM / in a year

Labor leaders at Thyssenkrupp demand more clarity in Tata JV talks

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Labor leaders at Thyssenkrupp (TKAG.DE) are seeking more clarity from management over a planned European joint venture with India’s Tata Steel (TISC.NS), warning of possible fallout at the German group’s sites.

FILE PHOTO: Thyssenkrupp's logo is seen close to the elevator test tower in Rottweil, Germany, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

The venture to form Europe’s second-largest steelmaker last week came under fire from German unions, who say a labor agreement between Tata and its Dutch workers goes too far in protecting sites there.

“In the next weeks and months we will scrutinize every single development,” Tekin Nasikkol, head of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe’s works council and a member of the firm’s supervisory board, said in a statement on Monday.

“The joint venture planned by management is still far from being agreed. We will not accept our sites and our employees being treated less favorably.”

Tata Steel has guaranteed that its Dutch division can continue to operate as an independent company within the venture, with control over its own profits and an independent supervisory board.

German labor representatives say that means the Dutch business would be able to dodge responsibility in the new tie-up, leaving the German sites to bear the brunt of risks.

Sources told Reuters on Friday that Tata Steel would consider taking a majority stake in the planned venture following a widely expected public listing.

The firms have yet to sign a final agreement over the venture, which was initially expected at the beginning of the year, with a closing seen in late 2018.

The rate at which new facts and speculation were emerging was causing uncertainty among employees and “continuously eroding faith in management,” said Horst Gawlik, deputy leader of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe’s works council.

Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board will hold an extraordinary meeting on April 12, with the tie-up on the agenda. Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe workers has scheduled a general meeting for the same day.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Douglas Busvine and John Stonestreet

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