The future of Tata Steel’s long products division looks brighter today, following the news that a letter of intent has been signed between the company and investment firm Greybull Capital.
Unite, the country’s largest union, welcomed the announcement, but said there was much detailed work to be done, with a number of key questions to be answered, such as will employment be safeguarded.
Unite national officer for metals and foundry Harish Patel said: “We welcome the announcement today for the 5,000 workers whose jobs are still under threat in the long products division. This is good pre-Christmas news for the various sites, including at Scunthorpe.
“However, there is a lot of work to be done in formulating the details and the future business plan. We will need to consider whether jobs are safe with this potential sale; the impact on the supply chain; and will the current terms and conditions for the workforce be affected.
“Ministers also need to realise that the matter does not end here – the industry is still in crisis, and yesterday’s scathing report by the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee said that government needs to be more engaged in the protection and development of this vital UK industry.
“This seems to have proceeded far faster than we were expecting and without our promised meeting with potential buyers, so we need to stress the urgency of dialogue with the unions. This workforce has remained loyal and committed through all this uncertainty – it is vital that we secure them every reassurance for the future under the new owners.
“We recognise the task ahead of us and will work hard in a constructive fashion with Greybull Capital to ensure that the long term business future is secured in the UK.”
The letter of intent covers several UK-based assets including Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe steelworks, mills in Teesside and northern France, an engineering workshop in Workington, a design consultancy in York, and associated distribution facilities.
Tata, the country’s largest steelmaker, has been trying to sell its long products unit, which makes steel used in construction, since last year with increasing urgency as a global steel crisis intensified and prices hit decade lows.
Tata Steel employs about 30,000 people across Europe, including about 17,000 in the UK.