AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A group of around 100 striking workers blocked the doors at Tata Steel’s main IJmuiden plant in the Netherlands on Tuesday morning, in what labour representatives said was a spontaneous move and a prelude to major action in the coming weeks.
Workers at the Dutch subsidiary have been unhappy since the departure last week of their CEO Theo Henrar, which prompted an angry response as he was seen as a strong advocate against Tata’s plans to cut around 1,000 jobs in the Netherlands.
Frits van Wieringen, the spokesman of the company’s works council, said Tuesday’s unplanned strike had not affected production, but that the council expected a “major action” in the short term.
“People are so angry, this situation is certain to escalate”, he said.
Tata Steel Netherlands’ Central Works Council (CWC) has said it fears that Tata Steel Europe aimed to cut its Dutch operations in order to save its loss-making British business.
The company’s Dutch officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Labour union FNV said it would stage a large rally on June 4, at which Tata’s Dutch employees would decide on strikes and possible further actions.
“We are gearing up for a huge fight”, FNV spokesman Roel Berghuis said.
“We want guarantees on job security, and an end to plans to integrate Dutch and British operations”, he said.
Tata Steel Europe employs 21,500 people, including 9,000 at IJmuiden in the Netherlands and 8,500 in Britain.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling and Bart Meijer; Editing by Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)