Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has called on Thyssenkrupp’s management on behalf of the federal government to present concepts for the steel division. These must contain perspectives for all locations, including for the Duisburg steel manufacturer HKM, said Heil in Duisburg at a protest rally in front of thousands of employees from the steel industry.

The works council of the steel division and IG Metall protested at the event against the management’s approach to the recently announced deal with the new co-owner EPCG. They accused the group’s executive board, led by CEO Miguel López, of having ignored the employee side in the run-up to the agreement on the sale of a share in the steel division. Thyssenkrupp rejects the accusations.

Heil: Don’t make decisions over the employees’ heads

“This is the hour of social partnership and also mining co-determination,” said Heil. Nobody can and should make decisions over the heads of the employees. “That never goes well. We are a social market economy, which is why solutions only exist with social and company partnerships and with co-determination,” Heil continued.

Regarding the entry of Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky’s EPCG holding, Heil said that no one has anything against investments from abroad if it is about long-term interest in steel and not just short-term profits. “But for this to happen, trust has to be created. If investors come here, they have to clearly state their interests and also have to participate in the concepts.”

The chairman of the general works council of the Thyssenkrupp steel division, Tekin Nasikkol, reiterated the “red lines” that should not be exceeded in the upcoming negotiations about capacity reductions in Duisburg. The existing collective agreements must remain in place. Redundancies for operational reasons must be ruled out. In addition, all locations would need a location guarantee. Ultimately, there should be no stop to investments “in the green future”. Regarding the planned EPCG entry, he said: “We have nothing against billionaires as long as they invest money in steel, but they still have to prove that to us.”

Demonstration planned in Essen on May 23rd

Nasikkol announced a demonstration in Essen on May 23rd. Then they want to show López “where the steel hammer hangs”. The Thyssenkrupp headquarters is located in Essen. The AG’s next supervisory board meeting is scheduled for May 23rd. Observers assume that the committee will then decide on EPCG’s entry.

Bundestag President Bärbel Bas, who has her constituency in Duisburg, and North Rhine-Westphalia’s Labor Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) also spoke to the workers at the rally.

The steel division of the Thyssenkrupp Group is Germany’s largest steel manufacturer. Around 27,000 people are employed, including 13,000 in Duisburg. Almost all Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe locations are in North Rhine-Westphalia.