Mr. Bimlendra Jha met with local AMs representing the Port Talbot steel works, David Rees, and the Trostre works, Lee Waters, in the Senedd this week following reports that TATA could delay a decision on the sale of its UK business.
The Assembly Members called for TATA to remove the uncertainty that exists within their communities on the future of the sales process and the subsequent anxiety amongst steelworkers and their families.
“Steelworkers at Port Talbot and Trostre have been continuing to deliver on meeting targets and they deserve clarity on their future. But the current uncertainty on TATA’s intentions has led to a loss of confidence by the workers and the unions in Tata, and there are all sorts of rumours flying around. It was important to invite Mr. Bimlendra Jha to come to the Senedd and meet with AMs from steel producing constituencies to discuss the current position” Aberavon AM David Rees said after the meeting.
“We told the head of Tata in the UK that steelworkers and their families, as well as the wider communities that depend on the steelworks, are living with great uncertainty and stress about their futures. We stressed that we need clarity about the future of the steelworks. We asked him whether Tata had changed its position and was considering holding on to the plants. He told us that there has been no change in the position of the Tata board to sell the UK plants” Llanelli AM Lee Waters said.
“Mr Jha assured us that their prime objective is to sell their steel making business interests in Wales, as per the board’s instructions, and they are currently going through an intense process to find a buyer that can move the operations on with a plan that is economically viable. He also told us that Tata have been responsible owners and have every intention of being responsible sellers. It is important to them to be sure that whoever buys their interests in steel making within Wales can find the investment needed to secure its future” Aberavon AM David Rees said.
“It was clear from the meeting that the local management of Tata are working to make the business attractive to potential buyers. They stressed that in order to survive UK steelmaking needs the cost of doing business in the UK reduced in order to help them compete against unfair competition from China. The Welsh Government has put money on the table with a clear offer of help. The UK Government have yet to make a concrete offer of support and they must now stop talking and start delivering” Llanelli AM Lee Waters said.
“Mr Jha accepted that some stakeholders want Tata to change its position and keep the plants on. He indicated that he was obliged to put to the TATA board any proposal which can be considered economically viable for the company, including one that may originate from TATA Steel UK itself, but at this time he has no viable plan which he could present to the board” David Rees added.