Tuesday, November 29, 2016

News: Tata deal welcomed but calls made for audit

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Sarah Champion MP has welcomed the announcement over exclusive negotiations between Tata Steel and Liberty House Group regarding the sale of Tata's Speciality Steels division, which includes facilities in Rotherham.

Liberty House and Tata Steel announced yesterday that a letter of intent has been signed and that they expect the £100m acquisition to complete early in the first quarter of 2017.

Reacting to the announcement, the Rotherham MP said: "It is welcome that negotiations for the sale of Speciality Steels have reached this important stage. Speciality Steels is a strong business with huge potential.

"This announcement marks the beginning of an extremely sensitive period for the business as negotiations proceed. Tata have engaged positively with employees and with trade unions during the process thus far and I hope that they will continue to be closely involved and consulted regarding any potential deal.

"Whist this announcement is of course good news, we must ensure that the Government remains committed to supporting our steel industry and that they act to ensure its long-term viability. Some progress on this has been made, but this momentum must be sustained.

"Steel remains a vital strategic industry and I hope that the Government will work with Tata and Liberty House to support Speciality Steel and ensure a viable future for steel in the UK."

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The news has also been welcomed by the steel unions such as Community which has worked with Liberty House Group at steel sites across the UK.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: "After months of uncertainty and delay from Tata, this will be welcome news for the thousands of steelworkers whose jobs depend on the success of this business.

"The number one priority for Community will be ensuring that Liberty have a proper plan to protect jobs and provide the long term investment necessary to grow the business. Crucial to this plan will be ensuring that the business' loyal workforce have a pension plan that provides dignity and security in retirement.

"This is a positive step for the UK steel industry; however there remain huge challenges which government must address. Energy costs, business rates, and procurement rules continue to put British businesses at a disadvantage. Community will continue with our ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign and will work with government and steel producers to secure a long term future for this vital industry."

Unite national officer for metals Harish Patel said that "the devil will be in the detail," adding: "Today's announcement is welcome as we can at last see some movement towards certainty for our members - our key concerns are job security for the workforce; the future of the British Steel pension scheme; and what the investment plans will be from the Liberty House Group going forward.

"Of course, the devil is very much in the detail which is why we will be asking Tata Steel to ensure that we can conduct independent due diligence on its proposals."

Liberty House website

Images: Liberty House


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