INDIA-BASED Tata Steel has said that the company plans to separate the UK and Netherlands arms of the business and keep the Port Talbot-based British business running without financial support from India.
Responding to the plan, Wales’ economy minister Ken Skates said that it is ‘extremely worrying’ for Tata’s 8,000 UK workers.
“The first minister is seeking urgent talks with the prime minister and I will speak to the secretary of state for BEIS (business, energy and industrial strategy) and the secretary of state for Wales to call for urgent action,” Skates told the BBC.
“The industry is now waiting for the UK government to take immediate action to safeguard the sector and protect jobs.”
According to the company, Swedish steel firm SSAB had initiated talks about the acquisition of its business in the Netherlands, including its steelworks at Ijmuiden, north-west of Amsterdam.
“This is a commercial decision for Tata Steel. We will continue to work with Tata Steel and other stakeholders as the company shapes its business strategy for the future. The UK government remains committed to supporting a sustainable, long-term future for steel making in the UK,” the UK government said as reported by the BBC.
T V Narendran, CEO and managing director of Tata, said: “We are continuing our discussions with the UK government regarding the future strategy of our UK business.”
About half of Tata’s 8,000 UK workers are based at Port Talbot, with several other sites around Wales and the rest of the UK.
“Once again our steelworkers are facing challenging times following this news. Almost five years ago they and their families went through hell as their livelihoods came under threat with the then announcement of a proposed sale of the Tata steel plants in Wales,” tweeted David Rees, the Labour MS for Aberavon.
Tony Brady, from the Unite union, said it was “essential” that Tata is able to keep trading with the EU after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.
“Today’s news effectively means that Tata’s European steel business will now be based solely in the UK. With Brexit fast approaching it is essential that Tata’s UK steel business is able to continue trading effectively across the EU,” he said.
Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of the Community Union, said Tata must now “reaffirm their commitment to the UK”.
“There is no doubt a sustainable future for Tata Steel UK depends on Tata and the government concluding a deal that will support the transition to low-carbon steelmaking,” he said.
The GMB union said it was “clear” that “manufacturers are expecting the UK to plot a different path from our European neighbours”.