Tata jobs fears as steel maker prepares for surprise UK sale

Andrew Percy MP, speaking in the House of Commons.
Andrew Percy MP, speaking in the House of Commons.
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JObs concerns have been raised as Tata Steel announces plans to sell its UK operations.

oth the steel firm and its potential buyer Klesch Group have been unable to say what the jobs impact of the sale would be on sites in Scunthorpe, Redcar and elsewhere.

Yesterday David Cameron revealed the Government has spoken to Tata about the sale.

Agreeing with Labour MP Nic Dakin to meet to discuss the issue, Mr Cameron said: “I want to see a strong future for steel making in Scunthorpe.

“I know how important this issue is. We are engaging with both Tata Steel and the company that is looking to buy, and we look forward to those discussions.”

In a round of broadcast interviews yesterday Klesch boss Gary Klesch said that he was prepared to meet the workforce to discuss the purchase.

He added: “History shows that the employment levels of the businesses we ownhas been maintained and even expanded so I think you have to give us a chance.”

Steel giant Tata said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Klesch Group, a Swiss industrial company which operates across Europe.

The planned sale covers several UK-based sites including Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe steelworks, mills in Teesside, Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland, an engineering workshop in Workington and a rail consultancy in York, as well as other operations in France and Germany.

About 6,500 people are employed at Long Products Europe and its distribution facilities, supplying products for industries including construction and excavation.

Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy raised the issue with the PM’s aides in parliament yesterday morning, and will now join other local MPs in an upcoming Downing Street meeting to look at what can be done to ensure jobs are not threatened.

Mr Percy said: “This whole thing has just come as a bolt out of the blue, there’s a lot of uncertainty. I have spoken with Klesch today to request a meeting with them.

“Obviously this sale is a private transaction but the key thing now is to get those assurances on the work force.”

Iain Wright, shadow minister for industry, said: “This announcement will create uncertainty and will be deeply worrying for the thousands of people affected.

“It is crucial that Tata Steel works with employees, trade unions and that jobs are safeguarded and that ministers take a lead.”