A group of around 100 Tata Steel Nederlands (TSN) employees spontaneously organized a blockade at the company’s blast furnace’s factory gates earlier this week.
According to local media reports, plant workers are disgruntled following the sudden exit of Theo Henrar, chief executive officer (CEO), TSN, on May 18. Henrar became popular among TSN employees after brokering a deal between parent company TATA Steel Europe and trade union FNV to delay 1,600 layoffs until at least October 2021.
While the scale of the flash strike did not adversely affect blast furnace iron and steelmaking production schedules, FNV stated it was “gearing up for a huge fight” and would hold a significantly larger rally on June 4 to decide on strikes and other industrial action.
Following the removal of the former CEO, TSN’ Central Works Council (CWC) raised it concerns that Tata Steel Europe is planning to scale back its Dutch operations in order to support its loss-making British operations.
Hans van den Berg, vice-chairman at TSN, who was reportedly talking-down the blockade of disgruntled workers on Tuesday, has been appointed the next CEO; with TSN CWC chairman describing it as a “logical choice” in a media interview.
Van den Berg, who has over 30 years of various Tata Steel experience under his belt, may help to diffuse the contentious situation. However, growing tensions between the Dutch subsidiary and the parent company will only be resolved if job security can be guaranteed.
TSN operates a facility in IJmuiden with liquid steelmaking capacity of 7.3mn mt per annum and can produce slab, hot and cold rolled coil, and coated strip products (galvanised coil and packaging steels); employing 9,000 people. Tata Steel UK operates a plant in Port Talbot with liquid steelmaking capacity of 5.1mn mt per annum and can produce produces slab, hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanised coil; employing 8,500 people.