Theo Henrar, chairman, Tata Steel Netherlands, has stepped down after opposing layoffs that could impact 1,000 jobs at the subsidiary.
A spokesperson for Tata Steel Europe confirmed Henrar’s departure from Tata Steel as a mutually agreed upon decision, according to media reports.
Tata Steel employs about 9,000 people at IJmuiden, about 25 km (15.5 miles) northwest of Amsterdam and the layoffs would reduce the subsidiary’s workforce by 11pc. Tata Steel Europe employs approximately 60,000.
In a statement, the company’s worker’s union said that Theo Henrar was dismissed in what was described as an “incomprehensible and ill-considered” decision made in the interests of Tata Steel UK at the expense of the Dutch segment. Labour Union FNV Steel said that Henrar had advocated to preserve the Dutch operations. The union is advocating a strike in response.
Tata Steel is proceeding with workforce reductions in the Netherlands division to accommodate financing for the UK arm and a potential merger with Germany’s thyssenkrupp, halted a year ago by the European Commission. Tata Steel and thyssenkrupp agreed on a merger of its European operations in June 2018 but the European Commission objected to the merger on competition concerns, which are being addressed by both entities by restructuring operations including the sale or closing of assets.
Tata Steel Europe began talks with workers in November over a restructuring program that would lead to 3,000 job cuts throughout the continent. In April, the company said it had delayed reorganization plans until after July 1, due to COVID-19. Steelmaking operations in Europe are operating at reduced capacity due to a significant drop in demand from the auto industry.
Steel prices began to decline in 2019 and now as a result of COVID-19 weaker steel demand and lower steel prices both Tata Steel and thyssenkrupp are facing deteriorating financial positions. Both companies are accelerating their restructuring plans.