Friday, July 17, 2015

News: Rotherham MPs react to Tata restructure


Local MPs have given their reaction to Tata Steel announcing plans to restructure is speciality steel and bar business, a move that puts 720 jobs, many in Rotherham, at risk of redundancy.

John Healey MP, who has been a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for steel and whose Wentworth and Dearne constituency includes the company's Aldwarke plant, said: "This is the worst possible news. It's simply devastating for the workers and their families, many of whom waived pay, holidays and other entitlements to help keep Tata going through the global economic crisis from 2008. They kept faith in Tata and now feel massively let down.

"This is a dedicated workforce and a modern plant, making some of the best steel in the world. I want to see independent industry experts assess this plan and make sure every other option has been fully considered. I fear cuts to steel-making on this scale would leave our Rotherham site with no long-term future.

"I've talked to union leaders and local Tata managers about this, and I have asked for an urgent meeting with Dr Karl Kohler, Tata's MD in Europe.

"I've also asked for an urgent meeting with business ministers because the government should be doing more to support UK steel as a vital strategic industry. We won government agreement to financial help for energy intensive manufacturers in the last parliament but Ministers have still not set up this scheme. And there's much more Ministers can do through government procurement contracts, support for skills and backing for research.

"Cutting jobs on this scale will be devastating to the town. Rotherham is proudly part of Britain's manufacturing base. When Maltby pit closed last year Rotherham became an ex-mining town and I'll fight to stop us also becoming an ex-steel town."

Tata Steel said that its bar business in Rotherham has been "underperforming in the face of commodity-grade steel being imported to the UK due to the strong pound and high electricity costs which are more than double those of key European competitors."

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, said: "I am deeply shocked and disappointed by the announcement from Tata regarding bar production closing in Rotherham. This is not just about losing 720 jobs, it's about the impact on 720 families and 720 wage packets no longer going into the local economy.

"I have consistently challenged the Government to address the inequality that British Steel faces against the rest of Europe with higher energy prices and business rates up to 10 times greater. The Chancellor promised a report into this by 2016. Today shows that is too little too late.

"I will continue to do all I can to make sure the Government fully supports the affected workers and I will push Tata to continue to offer training so that workers can re-train in specialist steel which will still be produced in Rotherham."

Images: Tata Steel


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