Tata Steel workers to protest in Brussels

More than 500 workers from Tata Steel will join thousands of their fellow steelmakers from across Europe on Monday to call for fair trade and a competitive level-playing field.

tata steel
Tata Steel employs 600 people at its Steelpark site Wednesbury

Steelmakers from across Tata Steel’s European sites, including the UK, Holland and France will be travelling to Brussels to take part in one of the biggest protest marches in the history of the European steel industry.

The demonstration of workers and executives has been organised following a severe downturn in the price of steel caused by a flood of imports into Europe.

Chinese steel shipments into Europe leapt more than 50 per cent last year, while imports from Russia were up 25 per cent and South Korea by 30 per cent.

Tata, which employs 600 at its Steelpark site in Wednesfield, is axing more than 1,000 jobs in the UK, mainly at Port Talbot and Llanwern in South Wales due to the growing crisis in the industry.

More than 5,000 European steelmakers are expected to gather for the demonstration with leaders of steel companies, including Tata Steel’s European chief executive Karl Koehler, marching shoulder to shoulder with employees.

Mr Koehler said: “The situation facing Tata Steel and other European steel makers today is perilous. If the European Commission does not take immediate and robust action, thousands of jobs in the industry – and many thousands more in the wider supply chain – will be threatened.

“We are not asking for special treatment. Instead, we are asking for the European Commission to stand up for fair trade and to give European steelmakers a chance to compete on a level-playing field."

The European steel association, Eurofer, has identified that Chinese steel is being exported at prices below the cost of production.

This unfair trade is undercutting domestic producers and harming the European steel industry which employs 330,000 people and is at the foundation of much of the region’s cutting-edge innovation.

The march is being organised – with Eurofer’s support – under the umbrella of AEGIS Europe, which is an alliance of 30 European industrial sectors including steel, aluminium, ceramics, glass, solar panels and bicycle manufacturing, among others.

Steel workers will also call on the EU not to award China market economy status which Eurofer fears would remove the EU’s ability to stop unfairly-traded imports from China.

European steelmakers are also calling for the Commission to ensure its post-2020 proposals to change the Emissions Trading System do not lead to unfair costs which are not borne by global competitors.

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