Wednesday, March 30, 2016

News: Unions respond to Tata's decision to sell

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Unions have given their reaction to an announcement from Tata Steel that the Indian steelmaker is looking at restructuring its European operations including the potential sale of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts.

A delegation headed by the Community, the steelworkers' union that is backing the "Save Our Steel" campaign, has been in Mumbai and held extensive talks with Tata for the past two days.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: "We travelled to Mumbai to secure a future for steelmaking in South Wales and we are disappointed that the future remains uncertain, not just for Welsh steelworkers but for thousands more workers in Tata's businesses elsewhere in the UK.

"We will of course wait to see the detail of Tata's divestment plans but, as we said before, it is vitally important that Tata is a responsible seller of its businesses and provides sufficient time to find new ownership. There is also a crucial role for both the Welsh and UK governments to do all they can to ensure a future for Tata's remaining UK steel businesses and to provide every assistance to secure a buyer that will continue steel making. We don't want just want more warm words, we want a detailed plan of action to find buyers and build confidence in potential investors in UK steel.

"The UK is now on the verge of a national crisis. Tata Steel withdrawing completely from the UK risks destroying our entire steel industry. That would be a disaster both for those communities reliant on steel jobs and our entire industrial base.

"For any advanced, manufacturing economy, steelmaking capacity is not optional. Losing the ability to make steel would fundamentally change our economy forever."

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Len McCluskey Unite general secretary, added: "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 and successful.

"This workforce, the steel community and the British people who have supported their businesses over the years deserve the best treatment in return."

Unions and politicians have called on the Government to do more to support the steel industry. In October 2015, Rotherham hosted a top-level summit to discuss the challenges currently facing the global steel industry attended by steel companies, MPs, unions and trade bodies.

A number of "asks" of the Government were laid out by steel unions which include: action on business rates; a compensation scheme for high-energy users; a commitment to favouring British steel in procurement; and work with the EU on anti-dumping measures to protect British steel from cheap subsidised imports.

Dave Hulse, GMB national officer, said: "GMB have been involved in steel meetings over many months with Government ministers and all we have seen is crisis after crisis, which demonstrates that these have been nothing more than talking shops.

"The Government needs to act now and support the steel industry; we are fed up with the false promises. Help is needed now otherwise these communities will never recover from this. Shame on Tata Steel."

Images: Community Union

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