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Unions to meet in bid to solve the UK steel crisis

By Alan Jones

Published 04/04/2016

Under pressure: Sajid Javid
Under pressure: Sajid Javid

Union leaders will today meet to discuss the crisis gripping the steel industry as efforts continue to save thousands of jobs.

Shop stewards from steelworks across the country will hold emergency talks in London and will continue pressing the Government for help.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has signalled ministers were working on plans to reduce energy costs and take on some of the pension liabilities in an effort to attract a buyer for Tata's loss-making UK assets.

He faced calls from Labour for his resignation after he disclosed he had been aware Tata had been meeting last week in Mumbai to discuss the future of its UK operations but chose to go ahead with a trip to Australia.

The Business Secretary played down suggestions that Tata could close down its UK operations, with the loss of 15,000 jobs, in as little as six weeks if a buyer was not found in time.

However, he acknowledged that the Government would have to come forward with some financial assistance if there was to be a deal.

"Tata will issue an offer document very soon. Alongside that, the UK Government know - I've known for a while - that we're also going to have to offer support to clinch that buyer and give that steel plant a long-term, viable future," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"I do feel, though, for lots of reasons after talking to Tata and many others involved in this, that there will be enough time to find the right buyer working with the Government and being able to take this forward."

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said of today's meeting: "After a tumultuous few days this will be the first time representatives from all the steel unions from across Tata Steel can come together to discuss the industrial crisis facing the industry."

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