LONDON: Warning against a "panic driven fire sale" of Tata Steel UK's Port Talbot plant, Britain's largest trade union Unit has asked the government to ensure that the sale done in a timely fashion.
UK's Business Minister Sajid Javid, who was in Mumbai earlier this week holding crunch talks with Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry on sale of its UK steel business, visited Port Talbot yesterday where he met employees and union representatives.
Port Talbot is Tata Steel UK's and Britain's largest steel plant.
"Today was an opportunity for our representatives to impress upon the business secretary the importance of Port Talbot not just to the Welsh economy but to manufacturing across the UK," Unite said in a statement late yesterday.
The union's Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke said the Secretary of State will have left Port Talbot today in no doubt whatsoever that this steelworks is a national asset and that this is a community that deserves a future.
"We underlined again the need to keep this business together because that is the only way to sustain the UK as a manufacturing nation, and the need to proceed to sale in a timely fashion -– there must be no panic-driven fire sales," Burke added.
He further said: "But all we know for sure is that Tata wants to sell, and that they have committed to proceed as a responsible seller. We now need to hear more about the next steps and what the government will do to retain UK steel manufacturing."
Meanwhile, after visiting Port Talbot, Javid yesterday tweeted: "Thank you to everyone at Port Talbot today. Great to see the plant in action and constructive update with unions."
After the meetings with Mistry in Mumbai, he said Tatas will launch sale process by Monday for its cash-guzzling UK steel business and his government has promised to help find a serious buyer and promised to secure jobs of the thousands of workers at the plants there.
Unite, which claims to have more than 1.4 million members across industries the UK, asked the government to invest in the sector that is passing through "tough times".
It sought government intervention to stabilise and secure the UK steel industry through a series of measures.
"These include government investment to help the sector through these tough times and the UK government dropping opposition to European Commission proposals to place higher tariffs on cheap Chinese steel," it added.
Unite further said it also wants ministers to take swift action on energy costs so that UK steelworkers can compete on a level playing field with their European counterparts and to compel British steel to be used in British infrastructure and defence projects.