Tata Steel condemns discriminatory remarks by employees about climate activists in WhatsApp group
Tata Steel management and the General Works Council have noted "with disgust" the comments made by employees in WhatsApp and Facebook groups about a demonstration planned for Monday by climate activists at the IJmuiden plant.
"The statements we have read and heard are completely unacceptable, insulting and are firmly rejected by us. We want to put all the facts on the table as quickly as possible and have a serious discussion with those involved. On that basis, we will see what action needs to be taken," Hans van den Berg, managing director of Tata Steel Netherlands, said in a statement.
The Noordhollands Dagblad reported on Saturday that it had screenshots of conversations in a WhatsApp group of a sub-works council of Tata. In it, the employees make firm statements about the action group Kappen met Kolen, which is related to Extinction Rebellion. Dozens of members of that group want to hold a 'die-in' on Monday at the entrance gate of Tata by lying on the ground as 'corpses'.
The Noordhollands Dagblad reported Saturday that it had screenshots conversations in a WhatsApp group of a Tata shareholders' council. In it, the employees make clear statements about the Extinction Rebellion-affiliated action group Kappen met Kolen. Dozens of members of this group plan to hold a "die-in" in front of Tata's entrance gate on Monday by lying on the ground like "corpses."
According to the newspaper, Vice-chairman Gerrit Idema of the Central Works Council wrote in the group "Right into the oven, then it won't stink." Another member of the works council added: "I wanted to add ‘Arbeit macht Frei’ as a hint." Another works council member wrote: "Do we still have that coffin somewhere that we used with the strikes? Can we take it away right away", with the addition of smileys and a picture of a coffin.
However, for one of the works council members, the Nazi language was a reason to immediately leave the app group: “I do not want to be associated with a group in which these kinds of incorrect comments are made and therefore leave this group immediately,” reported the Noordhollands Dagblad.
Activist Peter Jamin of Kappen met Kolen was shocked regarding the statements of the works council members of Tata Steel. But Monday's action against the use of coal in the company will continue as usual. And judging by the messages he received, Jamin believes more people will show up than at the last action at the Tata Steel site.
Jamin called the reference to the text “Arbeit macht frei”, which was above the entrance to concentration camps, an absolute low. "This is a dehumanization of the opponent. They feel safe in this closed app group where it's apparently not weird to say things like that. Fortunately, people have left that group, too."
The climate activist said that Monday's action sends a message to the government. "Which is failing us. Which government will be the first to dare to say that burning so much coal is no longer acceptable? The protest is not against the workers. The statements in this app group only show that they are worried about the future of the coal plant."
UPDATE: op 3 april doen we om 12 uur, als het luchtalarm afgaat, een die-in bij Tata Steel. Op dat moment vinden er in verschillende steden in Nederland ook die-ins plaats onder de vlag 'Luchtalarm=klimaatalarm'. Doe ook mee! #nietsdoenisgeenoptie #nuofnooit pic.twitter.com/P77QA2Jchz— Kappen met Kolen (@Kappenmetkolen) March 24, 2023
Reporting by ANP and NL Times