Thousands of jobs are at risk after it emerged Tata Steel plans to ‘sell its entire UK operation’. Crunch meetings were held in Mumbai, India, today to decide the fate of thousands of steelworkers and union sources now claim that the giant is ‘preparing’ to sell off its entire British operation. It is thought the Port Talbot plant in South Wales will now be put up for sale or closed down, while buyers are already being sought for the other large Tata plant in Scunthorpe, in the north east. Union leaders travelled to Mumbai today where the Indian-based Tata board met to discuss the company’s loss-making UK business. They had been hoping Tata would agree to a turnaround plan to keep steelmaking in Port Talbot and other UK plants Tata announced over 1,000 job cuts in January, with 750 in Port Talbot, and the latest news will affect other plants including Rotherham, Corby and Shotton.
Thousands of steel jobs have been lost in the past year, with companies blaming cheap Chinese imports and high energy cost. Speaking after the news broke tonight, Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, Wales, said: ‘We will not allow the closure of Port Talbot Steel works. One way or another we will continue to make steel in Port Talbot but it looks like Tata do not back the plan. ‘We will work with Tata and the UK government to help find a buyer for the plant. ‘Barrie Evans, spokesman of the Community Union, told Sky News: ‘We expect them to stand by their word and be a responsible seller. They always said they would so let’s see the actions. ‘We will fight to secure this plant, we know with the correct support we can make it profitable. ‘This is a national asset. We can’t allow it to go from our country. ‘It’s probably not the news we were expecting. The Community will fight for this plant. ‘We know we will make it a profitable business.
I would urge any buyer to back us and stick with us.’ Meanwhile, Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris responded: ‘Terrible news about proposed sell-off of steel-making in Port Talbot. Not the outcome that anyone wanted. ‘And Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood tweeted: ‘If reports from Mumbai are true, it’s devastating. @Plaid-Cymru wants Assembly recall. All must work together now to save our steel industry. ‘Both the Port Talbot and Scunthorpe steel plants are owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, which was founded in 1868 by 29-year-old bank-heir Jamsetji Nusserwanji. The firm owns Tetley Tea, Titan watches and Jaguar Land Rover and made profits of £4.7billion in 2015 on sales of £77billion.Tata employs 600,000 workers in 80 countries and in 2007 spent £6.7billion buying Corus, which comprised the former British Steel plants and sites owned by Dutch firm Koninklijke Hoogovens. Tata Steel has operations in 26 countries and produces 28m tonnes of steel each year. It is the second largest steel producer in Europe. Prior to today’s crunch meeting, more than 35,000 people had signed an open letter to Tata Steel’s chairman Cyrus Mistry in support of UK steelworkers.