TALKS regarding the UK steel industry are to kick off today in government as Prime Minister David Cameron and his ministers try to guarantee a future for the precarious position of 5,500 staff at Port Talbot steelworks. A further 40,000 jobs could be at risk if no buyer is found.
The Indian conglomerate, Tata steel announced its plans to sell UK assets, including the steel works at Port Talbot in South Wales.
The government´s response to the announcement and ensuing crisis was described by Stephen Kinnock, the MP for workers at Port Talbot, as “a total shambles” and called for an “urgent plan” to support the industry.
He continued: “Why is it that the Prime Minister seems to be reacting to this as if he didn’t see it coming. They’re in total disarray.”
There has been speculation that the government may offer to organise a sale and nationalise the works.
There have been calls from the opposition for the government to ´get their act together´ and step in now. Corbyn has been adamant that the government should be stepping in to safeguard the future of the steel works and the thousands of workers who would be affected by its closure. There has also been a labour petition, with over 85,000 signatures calling for Parliament to be recalled to discuss the critical position of the industry.
Corbyn visited the steelworks on March 30 where he criticised the Tata group for treating its workers as ´expendable´ and attacked ministers for sending mixed messages over their plans.
One of the government plans is to offer loans to potential buyers of the steel works, encouraging a new sale. Tighter rules on procurement would go ahead under new plans, meaning major UK British projects would be obliged to buy British Steel.
After just returning from his holiday in Spain, Mr Cameron offered his support at an “extremely worrying time” to Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones.
Labour has come forward and said that the Port Talbot plant, privatised in the 1980s as part the sale of British Steel, should be temporarily renationalised if no buyer comes forward and it faces closure.
A number of Conservative MPs have called for the subsiding of the plant which would be in contravention of EU rules.