Steel unions to hand Javid Port Talbot demands at key meeting tomorrow

Billy Bambrough
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Unions want the government to prevent Tata’s assets being cherry picked by buyers (Source: Getty)

Community, the union which represents British steelworkers, will meet with business secretary Sajid Javid tomorrow to discuss the steel crisis and present Javid with a list of demands for the industry.

The demands, which include the government preventing Tata and potential buyers from cherry-picking assets, were formulated at a meeting in London today.

“There needs to be a step-change in the level of government involvement with Tata, its customers and the unions,” said Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community.

Other union demands include reassurance for Tata UK’s customers, and a guarantee of investment.

Javid yesterday met with senior executives from Tata Steel for the first time since Tata’s group board decided last week it would pull the plug on its UK operations if no buyer could be found, though has set no timeframe for a sale.

Read more: The government must save the people, but not the industry

One potential buyer, metals group and commodities trader Liberty House, is discussing converting the plant’s blast furnace to be used to melt scrap metal.

Liberty House’s chief executive Sanjeev Gupta flew into London on Sunday for talks with Tata and the government.

Investment firm Greybull, which is currently putting the finishing touches on a deal with Tata for the Indian conglomerates Scunthorpe plant, could consider bidding for Port Talbot once the deal is completed, City A.M. understands. A deal for Scunthorpe could be announced as soon as this week.

Read more: Four things that could happen to Tata steelworks next

Tata employs around 15,000 workers in the UK, and it’s thought up to 25,000 jobs in the supply chain could be affected if steel production in the UK was halted. Tata estimates it’s currently losing more than £1m a day from its UK operations.

In a letter to MPs, Javid blamed the problems facing the British steel industry on a “perfect storm of market conditions”.

There have been calls for the business to be nationalised though Javid has played down the possibility.

The government has faced criticism for being slow to act over the steel crisis, which has been blamed on an influx of cheap Chinese steel, following demand in the country faulting.

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