DUESSELDORF (Reuters) – IG Metall has given Thyssenkrupp until Dec. 22 to agree to job, plant and investment guarantees for a chance of winning the powerful German trade union’s backing of the planned European steel merger with Tata Steel. “We are putting an end to this process of playing for time. We will negotiate until Dec. 22 and that will be the end,” labour representative Detlef Wetzel, who is also deputy supervisory board chairman of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, told Reuters on Monday. “If there is a negotiation outcome by then we will let IG Metall members vote on it.” The deadline puts further pressure on Thyssenkrupp Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger, whose plan to merge the group’s European steel business with that of India’s Tata Steel is seen as the centrepiece of his efforts to turn around the company. Hiesinger hopes to reach a final deal with Tata Steel in early 2018 but that depends on whether he can get it through Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, where labour representatives have called for job and plant guarantees of 10 years. Labour representatives hold half of the 20 seats on Thyssenkrupp’s supervisory board, and while a deal can still be pushed through without their consent, their approval could significantly smooth the transaction. (Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Ludwig Burger)

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