November 29, 2016 / 11:27 AM / 2 years ago

German union leader says will fight for plants in Tata-Thyssen merger

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Thyssenkrupp’s powerful labour chief said workers would resist shutting down capacity in any merger of the German industrial group’s European steel business with that of peer Tata Steel .

“We have capacities that are worth preserving, and we will fight for that,” Wilhelm Segerath, who represents the works council on Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

“I don’t see any strengthening (of Thyssenkrupp) through a merger with Tata,” Segerath said, adding he would prefer a sale of Thyssenkrupp’s steel plant in Brazil.

Steel-to-elevators group Thyssenkrupp has been exploring a steel merger with Tata in response to excess production capacity and a weak demand outlook.

Thyssenkrupp’s works council, which represents 28,000 steelworkers, has made clear it will resist any move that could cost jobs or see the firm abandon its 200-year-old steelmaking roots.

Industry sources told Reuters on Monday that Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp were looking at reducing the size of Britain’s largest steel plant in Port Talbot, Wales.

Earlier this month, a union source told Reuters that Tata could close its defined-benefit pension scheme to future accruals as a way to cut the massive deficit that is the major stumbling block to a deal.

Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Keith Weir

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