British Steel sale talks news hailed as ‘important step’
There was universal praise for the deal getting closer to completion, but also calls for full transparency in the final bid.
Senior politicians and union leaders have reacted to news that the investment division of Turkey’s armed forces pension fund is the preferred bidder for British Steel.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “This is an important and positive step forward in securing the future of British Steel.
“I said that no stone would be left unturned in our efforts to find a suitable buyer for the whole company and we have worked tirelessly to support the official receiver to do that.
“I want to thank British Steel’s employees for their continued dedication and hard work throughout, which I saw first-hand when I visited Scunthorpe recently.
“The UK has a long and proud history of steel manufacturing and I am committed to a modern and sustainable future for the industry that is productive and supports a skilled and highly valued workforce.”
Ross Murdoch, GMB’s national officer, warned of the “uncertainty” facing the workforce.
He said: “Our members are staring redundancy in the face.
“This dedicated and loyal workforce must not be an afterthought amidst all of the speculation.
“GMB looks forward to engaging with the new management as soon as it is established to ensure direct employment protection and decent terms and conditions for the workers who have been put in this position through no fault of their own. ”
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said the workers must have “security and stability”.
She added: The Government must do everything it can to ensure this deal is concluded to secure the future of the company and people’s jobs in Scunthorpe.
“It is essential that Oyak submits its full plans for proper scrutiny by the steel unions and works closely with them to ensure the long-term future of British steel in the interests of the workers, not just shareholders
“Given the company’s track record, Labour will hold the Government to account if there are any moves to undermine the unions and workers’ terms and conditions.”
Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “The news that there looks like being a buyer for British Steel is a positive development and provides some much-needed optimism for workers, customers and others in the supply chain.
“As part of our UK steel inquiry, in the autumn we plan to ask Ataer about its proposals, its plans for the workforce and how it will ensure the future prosperity of a company that is so important to the community and wider economy.”
Harish Patel, Unite’s national officer for steel, said: “The overwhelming feeling of the 5,000 workers at British Steel is one of relief.
“Since May the workers have had their lives put on hold with the future of the company and their jobs being placed in an extremely precarious position.
“The announcement that Oyak has entered into exclusive talks about purchasing British Steel is not the end of the process, but it is a massive step forward and provides a degree of confidence for the workforce at British Steel and the company’s customers.
“In order to secure the long-term future of British Steel and the UK steel industry, there remains a requirement for the Government to keep its eye on the ball and provide assistance to tackle problems of high use energy costs and business rates.
“The Government must also introduce a proper industrial strategy which tackles procurement issues to ensure that public contracts use UK steel.
“It is also essential that the government acts to prevent a disastrous no deal Brexit which would lead to cheap steel being dumped in the UK market.”
Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel, described the outlook as “extremely positive” but said the coming weeks “will be crucial for hammering out the detail and successfully completing a sale”.
She added: “I’ll be looking closely at the detail of their bid to ensure it delivers the investment in assets, people and innovation that we need.
“I want to pay tribute to secretaries of state Greg Clark and Andrea Leadsom, the official receiver and EY, the trade unions, and the wider British Steel Support Group for their dedication to securing a successful outcome.
“No-one wanted to see a repeat of the disaster in 2015 and to their credit ministers have stepped up this time, including with the support package for this sale.”
Councillor Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “It has taken a lot of hard work right across the political divide from Government downwards to get to this stage – but that hard work is not over yet and we at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council will continue to work with all parties to get the best possible deal for our people at Skinningrove and Lackenby and our borough.
“We will continue to develop our relationship with Ataer Holding AS as the preferred bidder, a respected firm which has strong links right across the international steel industry.”