Wednesday, April 6, 2016

News: Tata talks continue

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Business Secretary Sajid Javid is in Mumbai to meet with bosses at Tata Steel as the unions set out their demands of Government.

The Government has been working on finding a long-term sustainable future for steel making across the UK and a shock announcement from Tata Steel last week led to an even more uncertain future at its UK sites. All options for portfolio restructuring are being examined including the potential sale of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts.

Javid will meet with Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry today for an update on the sale process of Tata Steel's UK operations. The meeting in Mumbai follows constructive meetings in London with trade unions, the EEF and UK Steel this week.

Javid also met this week with Sanjeev Gupta, head of Liberty Group, which recently bought two Tata mothballed steel mills in Scotland.

Independent advisors are being appointed by the Government and Mr Javid is working with the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O'Neill, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Letwin and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns – as well as the Welsh Government – in helping secure a buyer for Tata's steel assets.

The Government said that it is "using all possible ministerial, official and diplomatic levers to help secure the long term future of the steel industry in the UK."

Rotherham hosted Anna Soubry MP The Minister of State (Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise) to provide an insight into the viability of Tata's world class speciality steels business in South Yorkshire.

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The Government and unions are pressing Tata to be a "responsible seller" and would much prefer their UK operations to be sold together. Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, the steelworkers' union said: "The government must ensure that individual plants are not cherry picked by investors with no commitment to maintaining our national steel making capacity. Our steel industry cannot simply be sold off for scrap, it should only be sold to a new owners with the patience to see allow British steelmaking to succeed."

100 steelworkers from across the UK gathered at the TUC's Congress House this week to formulate a plan for their industry following Tata Steel's decision to divest its UK assets.

The demands of Government include immediate action to guarantee the production of Tata's UK steel operations so that customers are not lost following Tata Steel's announcement; and supporting investment originally planned by Tata – understood to be £1.5 billion over ten years - for example in R&D, skills and improving blast furnace operations at Port Talbot.

The steel unions have engaged expert steel industry advisors Syndex UK to help with further development of their plans.

Harish Patel, Unite national officer, said: "Steelworkers are united in their view of what the government must do. This business should have a future but it needs immediate action to reassure customers and protect the integrity of the business. We don't want to hear more warm words from ministers. We want Government to work with us to deliver this plan, invest in the future of steelmaking and protect the jobs of thousands of steelworkers across the UK."

Images: Tata Steel

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