UK steel crisis: Politicians clash as Tata board meets in Mumbai

 
Jessica Morris
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Tata Steel Expected To Axe Jobs In Scunthorpe Today
Thousands of UK steel jobs are at stake (Source: Getty)

Politicians clashed as the board of Tata Steel met in Mumbai today to decide the fate of thousands of British jobs.

Reports suggest the board is discussing the 1,050 UK redundancies announced in January, and whether to back a rescue plan for the Port Talbot plant in Wales.

Tata is looking to streamline its business, a move which could result in thousands of steel job losses in the UK. The industry struggled recently due to a slew of cheap steel imports from China, high energy costs, high business rates and a strong pound.

"I think [the former business secretary] Vince could have done more, yes. Sorry, but that is my view. We were in a coalition then," Anna Soubry, business minister, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

“When I was appointed the prime minister specifically said to me, ‘we know we have some very real problems in our steel industry and I want you to devote a large amount of your time to solving those problems as much as you can’.”

But Liberal Democrat leader Tim Faron leapt to his former colleague's defence, dismissing Soubry's comments as "utterly rubbish" and saying Cable protected the steel industry.

"The government has no plan and is failing then," he said on Twitter.

It comes after union bosses made a last ditch attempt to ensure Tata Steel's continued support for the UK arm of its business, ahead of the meeting.

Officials from the Community union said yesterday that they had "constructive" talks with representatives from Tata Steel in Mumbai.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, and Frits van Wieringen, chairman of the Tata Steel European works council, met in Mumbai with senior representatives of Tata Steel ahead of the meeting.

A spokesperson for Community, the steelworkers union said: “The meeting was open and constructive."

"The European delegates made the case for Tata to continue to support the UK Strip business."

"Tata Steel representatives outlined the context of commitment to the UK business to date, financial performance and the challenging global conditions of the steel sector.”

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