Tata Steel boss meets with MPs over pensions row which is set to bring Hartlepool plant out on strike

Tata Steel, Brenda Road, Hartlepool.

Tata Steel, Brenda Road, Hartlepool.

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Tata Steel’s European boss has met with MPs in the latest twist to the pensions row.

Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, met MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Steel.

Mr Koehler answered all the questions MPs asked him. He assured them 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

Tata Steel spokesman

They talked about planned changes to the company’s UK pension arrangements which could see members of four trade unions walk out for a day of action on June 22.

A Tata Steel spokesman said Mr Koehler “answered all the questions MPs asked him. He assured them 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.

“Mr Koehler also reiterated that the company 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. But he stressed that decisions on dealing with these challenges must be made imminently.”

The company said it would “soon be announcing new measures which will lessen the impact of the proposed pension changes, particularly on our longest-serving employees nearing retirement age.

“We hope that these important changes to our proposals will be welcomed by employees and that the trade unions reconsider industrial action.”

Members are planning action in protest at the closure of their final salary pension scheme.