Wednesday, June 22, 2016

News: Steelworkers want answers

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Steelworkers from Rotherham met with representatives from other Tata Steel UK sites in London yesterday to consider issues relating to the ongoing sales process.

The Indian-owned steelmaker concluded in March that it is exploring all options for portfolio restructuring including the potential sale of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts. Rothbiz yesterday reported on the muddying waters of the sale process which ranges from selling all of the UK assets together, selling individual units, to Tata remaining in the UK.

Sky News went further and reported that KPMG, engaged by Tata Steel as advisers to the sale process, is understood to have been asked to contact prospective bidders for the Speciality Steel business in South Yorkshire and the pipeline tube operations.

Over 60 reps gathered at the TUC's Congress House to hear from Community's general secretary, Roy Rickhuss and to agree the union's position on a number of issues.

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Following the meeting, Community's reps unanimously agreed the following statement which has been sent to Tata Steel management:

Community, the steelworkers’ union, has serious concerns about the integrity of Tata Steel’s sales process. Almost three months have passed since the announcement that Tata intended to sell their UK assets, yet if anything steelworkers and their families are now less certain of their future than ever. Employees, customers and suppliers all deserve to know Tata's intentions. Without all of those groups the steel industry cannot hope to have a successful future.

Tata made it clear they no longer wanted to keep their UK businesses. The UK Government stressed the need for Tata to act as a responsible seller; however it is now unclear whether Tata intend to sell the business at all. Since that first announcement, the trust and good will of Tata’s loyal workforce has been pushed to the limit. If Tata do indeed intend to retain the business, then they need not only to make this clear to their loyal workforce, but also lay out their long term plan for investment in steelmaking. Were Tata to remain, they would have a long way to go in regaining the confidence of steelworkers. Amidst this uncertainly, there also remains the hugely important issue of the pension scheme to be resolved.

It is simply unacceptable that our members are expected to learn more about this process from the media than their own employer. Today workers are reading in the media that Tata are now willing to accept bids for separate parts of the business, despite previously committing to selling the whole business as a going concern. Further to this, some media reports have suggested that Tata does not consider any of the bids that have been submitted to be credible. However the independent steel experts, Syndex, have examined the bids and found a number to be potentially financially robust and credible for the long-term. We believe the next stage of the process should be for bidders to submit to Tata their full and detailed plans for the business. If Tata are continuing with the sales process it is vital they provide bidders with the information and support they need to develop the best possible proposals to safeguard our industry.

The British steel industry is bigger than any one company or government, and as the guardians of the industry we call on Tata to recognise their moral and social responsibilities. Community will continue our "Save Our Steel" campaign, meanwhile Tata and the UK Government must get their act together to end this insufferable period of uncertainty and ensure a future for UK steelmaking.


Community website
Tata Steel website

Images: Tata Steel

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