Attempt to block Tata excursion fails

| Stan Waning

Activists from University Rebellion wanted to block departing vans of study association Stress in the direction of steel producer Tata Steel on Thursday morning. However, the Stress board already took the action into account, so they left earlier and from a different place.

The activists wanted to block the vans just before 10am, but the study association was already taking the action into account. They therefore left earlier than planned from the parking lot behind the Cubicus. In November 2022 , a similar scene occurred when study association Isaac Newton wanted to leave to a Shell refinery. Then the action succeeded. At the Business Days Twente, there were also protests at a number of stands, including those of Tata Steel.

Because of the earlier action, Stress – the study association for the Business Administration (BA), International Business Administration (IBA) and Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) programmes – was taking a protest action already into account. 'We pointed out our suspicions to security and were advised not to inform our travelling members about the place of departure until as late as possible. That's why we didn't do that until this morning,' says board member Mika Hoekstra.

Major polluter

University Rebellion, a protest group that has been operating anonymously at the UT since 2020, finds it incomprehensible that a study association offers an excursion to the steel producer in IJmuiden, one of the largest polluters in the Netherlands. At the beginning of last year, it was also revealed that Kooksfabriek 2 had been leaking hazardous substances since its construction in 1972. A problem that has not yet been resolved. Residents around the factory also live shorter lives on average due to emissions, which also lead to a greater risk of lung cancer. At the same time, Tata Steel provides around 10,000 jobs in the Netherlands and contributes a significant share to the Dutch economy.

Hoekstra understands that activists are making their voices heard. 'But I think it's important to paint the complete picture. As Stress, we do not take a political stance and we offer numerous excursions, to Tata Steel, but also to companies that focus on sustainable projects. I understand and share the concerns of the activists, but I'd rather talk to each other than disrupt an excursion.'

He points to the great interest in the excursion. 'We didn't have to do any promotion. Within three days, the excursion was fully booked. Many students find companies such as Tata Steel extremely interesting. Many UT alumni also work for the steel producer. That's why we think it's of added value to offer the excursion, just as we organise similar trips to companies that are involved in sustainable initiatives.'

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