AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Labour representatives at Tata Steel’s Dutch operations said on Monday that the company plans to cut 1,000 jobs in the Netherlands and that the subsidiary’s chairman will step down after opposing the layoffs.
A spokesman for Tata Steel Europe confirmed that Chairman Theo Henrar will leave Tata Steel Netherlands in a decision agreed by “mutual consultation.”
Tata Steel Europe began talks with workers in November over a “transformation programme” that would lead to 1,250 job cuts in Europe, following a decision by European Union competition regulators to block a joint venture with Germany’s Thyssenkrupp.
Tata Steel Netherlands’ Central Works Council (CWC) said in a statement on Monday that Tata Steel Europe aimed to cut its Dutch operations in order to save its loss-making British operations.
“The CWC does not agree to the scrapping of 1,000 jobs in the Netherlands,” the CWC said.
Tata Steel Europe spokesman Damien Brooks said there was no conflict between the British and Dutch subsidiaries, though both are in restructuring talks.
Tata Steel Europe employs 21,500 people, including 9,000 people at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands and 8,500 in Britain.
Brooks said that talks over job cuts in Europe that began in November were continuing.
Labour Union FNV Steel said that Henrar had tried to preserve the Dutch operations.
“The owners of Tata Steel in India are keen to downsize Ijmuiden,” Roel Berghuis of FNV Steel said in a statement. “Henrar had been able to convince them time after time of the large importance of the subsidiary for Tata Steel and the Netherlands.”
The CWC said that Henrar had been “dismissed” in what they described as an “incomprehensible and ill-considered” decision made in the interests of Tata Steel UK at the expense of the Dutch arm.
“Both the shareholders in India and the European leadership of Tata Steel have been failing to solve problems in Britain for years,” it said. “Billions of pounds and euros have not been able to make Tata Steel UK profitable.”
Tata Steel Europe said last month that it had delayed reorganisation plans until after July 1, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Steelmakers around Europe are operating at reduced capacity due to a drop in demand from the auto industry following the pandemic.
Brooks confirmed that Tata Steel is making use of government support programmes in both Britain and the Netherlands, but the company is not worried that will create political barriers to a restructuring.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “We need to restructure to survive.”
(Reporting by Toby Sterling, editing by Susan Fenton)