Port Talbot steelworks: Partnership call with UK government

Port Talbot steelworks: Partnership call with UK government

Calls have been made to protect the future of Tata’s Port Talbot steelworks after its owners said it was looking to sell part of its European arm.

Tata said it wanted to make its UK business, based mainly in Port Talbot, “self-sustaining” and without the need of funding from India.

One MP has called for a “partnership” between the company and the UK government.

The UK government has said it was committed to steelmaking in the UK.

It said it “will continue to work with Tata Steel and other stakeholders” as the company shapes its business strategy for the future.

Tata announced on Friday that Swedish firm SSAB had initiated talks over the acquisition of its Netherlands-based operations, including the steelworks at Ijmuiden, a port city about 21km (13 miles) outside of Amsterdam.

The move would separate the UK and Dutch parts of Tata’s business, which merged back in 1999, then as British Steel and Koninklijke Hoogovens.

Wales’ Economy Minister Ken Skates said the news was “extremely worrying” for Tata’s 8,000 UK workers.

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, said it was “time for a partnership” between Tata Steel and the government.

He told BBC Radio Wales that Tata’s decision “puts the spotlight very firmly on the UK government that has to now step up and provide support to the British steel industry”.

He added: “It is about the UK government now stepping up to the plate and saying ‘okay, this is a British business, we need it for decarbonisation, for climate change objectives, we need it to build sovereign capacity after Brexit’.”

Tom Hoyles, of the GMB Wales union, said public ownership and UK government support “should be on the table” if necessary.

“Those are two options we think they should look at,” he said.

“Port Talbot and steel go together like fish and chips.

“It’s not just the jobs that are there that will be affected but supply lines… the smaller businesses and families who live in the town as well who will be worried.”

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