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Tata Steel Europe chief meets British Parliamentarians

Tata Steel Europe chief meets British Parliamentarians
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Faced with strike call at its UK plants, Tata Steel has informed British Parliamentarians that it is open to "unconditional talks" over the company's proposed changes to the British Steel Pension Scheme with trade unions even at this late stage.

"Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations, today met MPs in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Steel following an invitation to discuss the proposed changes to the company's UK pension arrangements," the company said in a statement on Thursday. Tata Steel had said on Wednesday that unions -- Community, Unite, GMB and <g data-gr-id="42">Ucatt</g> -- have notified it on their plans for industrial action on June 22 at all its plants across the UK, the first such action in the country in over three decades.

During the meeting with lawmakers, Koehler explained the context behind the firm's continuing efforts to develop a fair and sustainable pension scheme for UK employees, said the statement. "The scheme is faced with a projected shortfall of up to 2 billion pounds, which both the company and the unions agree makes change necessary. In a robust and constructive dialogue Koehler answered all the questions MPs asked him," it said. He assured the Parliamentarians that the company shares their concerns about potential industrial action, particularly in view of the urgent need to continue the focus on investing in Tata Steel's UK assets, the statement added. "Koehler also reiterated that the firm remains open even at this late stage to unconditional talks with the unions to find resolutions in good faith to the very serious challenges that require the pension scheme to be reformed," it said. But he stressed that decisions on dealing with these challenges must be made imminently, it said. Tata Steel said: "We have over the last few months listened carefully to our employees during an extensive consultation process involving thousands of employees. "In response to this feedback, we will soon be announcing new measures which will lessen the impact of the proposed pension changes, particularly on our longest-serving employees nearing retirement age," it added. The steel major hoped that these important changes to its proposals will be welcomed by employees and that the trade unions reconsider <g data-gr-id="51">industrial</g> action, the statement added.

Tata Steel employs more than 17,000 workers at four sites across Wales in Port Talbot, Newport, Flintshire and Carmarthenshire, as well as sites around England including Corby, Hartlepool, Rotherham, Scunthorpe, Teesside and York.

According to the notice received by the firm, the unions in the UK propose a nationwide ban on overtime working and a 'work to rule' commencing June 16, 2015 and additionally strike action at most of the UK operating units on June 22. Meanwhile, shares of Tata Steel on Thursday fell over 2 per cent on the bourses after UK unions notified the company of an industrial action on June 22 over the firm’s proposal to revise the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). The stock slumped 2.37 per cent to an early low of Rs 298.70 on BSE. Similar movement was seen on National Stock Exchange as well where the stock opened at Rs 306.10, then slumped 2.52 per <g data-gr-id="43">cent to</g> low of Rs 298.30 in early trade.

In a BSE filing on June 10, the firm said: “Tata Steel UK (indirect subsidiary of Tata Steel Ltd) has now been notified by the four unions (Community, GMB, <g data-gr-id="46">Ucatt</g> and Unite) of their plans to take industrial action in dispute over the company’s proposal to revise the BSPS’ contribution and benefits framework.” Tata Steel employs more than 17,000 workers at four sites across Wales in Port Talbot, Newport, Flintshire and Carmarthenshire, as well as sites around England including Corby, Hartlepool, Rotherham, Scunthorpe, Teesside and York.

The filing further said: “As per the notice received, the unions in the UK propose a UK-wide ban on overtime working and a ‘work to rule’ commencing June 16, 2015 and additionally strike action at most of the UK operating units on June 22.” However, the unions have indicated that they are open to talks with the Tatas over a meaningful settlement. 


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