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German steel workers protest Chinese dumping, consolidation

More than 40,000 German steel workers protested across the countryApril 11 against China dumping cheap steel on the EU market, climate regulationand industry consolidation, Reuters reported the same day.

The protests came as Germany's largest steelmaker is holding negotiationswith Tata Steel Ltd. overa proposed merger.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel supported the protests and spoketo the crowd in Duisburg in the Ruhr Valley.

"Consolidation, if it is necessary, can't happen only inGermany," Gabriel said. "It can't be that we worry nervously about consolidation,we are the ones who lose the jobs and others don't even take part."

ThyssenKrupp has been looking to exit the steel sector since2011, when it appointed Heinrich Hiesinger as CEO.

The merger will be unable to continue if it is not supportedby workers' unions and political leaders, Reuters noted.

The German steel industry is a critical player in the EU's healthiesteconomy, accounting for 87,000 direct and 3.5 million indirect jobs. ThyssenKruppemploys one in three German steel workers.

"Moving from one conglomerate with a very strong track recordand history in German steel (ThyssenKrupp) to another with a weak history in EUsteel (Tata) with absolutely no affiliation to the Thyssen or Krupp name and legacywe think could be a very tough sell," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in an April11 note.

Hiesinger promised greater transparency to its workers when hecame to the helm of the German steel firm. German steel workers have special rightsto determine company strategy, thanks to a law passed in 1951.

"ThyssenKrupp wants to understand itself more as a technologygroup," ThyssenKrupp Steel production coordinator Joerg Kallweit told Reuters.

"At least current management is dealing with it more openly."