Monday, July 15, 2024

Federal Labor Minister Heil Urges Thyssenkrupp for Defined Steel Concepts Amidst Worker Protest


Heil demands steel concepts from Thyssenkrupp management

In a significant move reflecting the federal government’s concerns, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil from the SPD has made a strong call to Thyssenkrupp’s management, urging them to propose well-defined concepts for the future of their steel division. This appeal came during a speech Heil delivered in Duisburg, amidst a large gathering of steel industry workers who had come together in protest against the decisions of Thyssenkrupp’s executive board.

Speaking directly to the sentiments of the thousands of employees present, Heil emphasized the importance of including viable future prospects for all company locations, paying particular attention to Duisburg’s steel manufacturer, HKM. This statement was made against the backdrop of growing unease within the workforce over the recent interactions between Thyssenkrupp and EPCG, a new co-owner within the steel sector.

The contention primarily revolves around the executive board, under CEO Miguel López, and their handling of the share sale agreement concerning the steel division to EPCG. Critics, especially from the works council of the steel division and IG Metall, have been vocal about their feeling of being sidelined in the lead-up to the agreement. Thyssenkrupp, however, has dismissed these accusations.

Heil underscored the critical nature of co-determination and social partnership in the current scenario, declaring, “This is the hour of social partnership and also of co-determination in the coal and steel industry.” He stressed that decisions should not be made without considering the voice of the employees, highlighting the foundational principle of a social market economy which necessitates solutions born out of social and company partnerships.

In his discourse, Heil also touched upon the entrance of the EPCG holding company, steered by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky into the arena, noting that foreign investment was welcome as long as it aligned with the long-term interests in steel, rather than being purely profit-driven. “But trust must be created for this. When investors come here, they must clearly state their interests and must also be involved in the concepts,” Heil added.

Tekin Nasikkol, serving as the Chairman of the General Works Council for thyssenkrupp’s steel division, reaffirmed the essential conditions that negotiations on capacity reduction in Duisburg must adhere to. These include the preservation of existing collective agreements, the prohibition of operational dismissals, guarantees for all locations, and the continuation of investments into a ‘green future’. Regarding EPCG’s impending involvement, Nasikkol commented on the need for billionaires to demonstrate their commitment to investing in steel genuinely.

In a move to escalate their demands, Nasikkol announced plans for a demonstration in Essen on May 23, aiming to make a bold statement to López and the wider management team. This date aligns with the next scheduled Supervisory Board meeting, where decisions regarding EPCG’s stake are anticipated.

The rally also heard from Bundestag President Bärbel Bas and North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of Labor Karl-Josef Laumann, both of whom addressed the assembled employees, echoing sentiments of support and solidarity.

Thyssenkrupp’s steel division stands as Germany’s largest steel manufacturer, with approximately 27,000 employees, 13,000 of whom are based in Duisburg. The region of North Rhine-Westphalia is home to nearly all sites of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, marking it as a critical area in the broader landscape of the German steel industry.

Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett
Alexandra Bennett is a seasoned business journalist with over a decade of experience covering the global economy, finance, and corporate strategies. With a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a Master's in Business Journalism from Columbia University, Alexandra has built a reputation for her insightful analysis and ability to break down complex economic trends into understandable narratives. Prior to joining our team, she worked for major financial publications in New York and London. Alexandra specializes in mergers and acquisitions, market trends, and economic

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