Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of jobs at risk as Tata 'decides to sell off' its UK steel assets

By Alan Jones

Tata Steel is believed to be selling its UK assets, including Port Talbot, sources have revealed.

The shock development casts doubt over the future of thousands of steelworkers’ jobs.

Union leaders travelled to Mumbai where the Tata board met to discuss the company’s loss-making UK business.

They had been hoping Tata would agree to a turnaround plan to keep steel-making in Port Talbot and other UK plants.

The news will affect other Tata plants including Rotherham, Corby and Shotton.

Tata announced over 1,000 job cuts in January, with 750 in Port Talbot.

Thousands of steel jobs have been lost in the past year, with firms blaming cheap Chinese imports and high energy costs

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said that if the reports were true, “it’s devastating”.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who is with the unions in Mumbai, had urged Tata to “hold its nerve” in the face of issues.

He was critical of the Government for not sending a minister to lobby the Tata meeting.

Community, Unite and the GMB will now step up calls on the Government to do more to save the steel industry.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “deeply concerned” by the news. “The Government must intervene immediately to protect UK jobs,” he added.

Dave Hulse, of the GMB union, said: “This is absolutely devastating news for all our members, their families and the local communities. Tata has let the whole of the UK steel industry down.

“The plan that was presented to the board deserved to be given time to see if the market improved. It goes to show what we have thought for a long time — that Tata wanted out.

“Our members have done everything that has been asked of them and, just when it was needed, Tata lost their nerve.

“The Government needs to act and support the steel industry. We are fed up with the false promises. Help is needed otherwise these communities will never recover. Shame on Tata Steel.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This is a dark day for the proud communities and a proud industry which is now on the verge of extinction.

“This news will leave workers and families not just in Port Talbot but in Rotherham and Stocksbridge reeling. Steel is in the veins of these communities. These workers make some of the best steel in the world and have worked hard to deliver for Tata, through thick and thin times.

“They will feel a grim sense of betrayal by this decision, because they know that given half a chance they can make Port Talbot and sites across the UK profitable.

“Unite pledges we will leave no stone unturned in our fight for their futures and for the industry.

“My message to Business Secretary Sajid Javid and his government is that they cannot let another Redcar situation happen. Their dithering over intervention allowed the lights of that key industrial asset to be snuffed out.

“Ministers must honour their promises to keep the lights over the UK’s steel communities burning. I will be seeking a meeting with them as a matter of urgency in order that steps to save our steel are taken by government without delay.

“To Tata itself, Unite’s message is that this workforce, the steel community and the British people who have supported their businesses over the years deserve the best treatment in return. Do everything in your power to have these vital assets handed back to this country in a shape that allows a serious buyer and a future to emerge.”

Belfast Telegraph