Wales

Tata board meets in Mumbai on Port Talbot steelworks future

Port Talbot steelworks Image copyright Getty Images

An action plan to save Port Talbot's steelworks is being discussed by owners Tata Steel in India.

Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock has joined Community union officials in Mumbai to lobby the board, amid worries the plant could be mothballed.

In January, the plan to cut 1,000 jobs - 750 at Port Talbot - was announced.

The company blamed "extremely difficult market conditions" due to falling European prices caused by cheap imports, particularly from China.

Mr Kinnock said he was "still in the dark" and is waiting for a briefing at the delegation's hotel after the end of the board meeting.

Tata employs about 5,500 people in Wales and has made 5,000 cuts in the UK over the last year. It is estimated to be losing £1m a day at Port Talbot alone.

The action plan to cut costs is seen as giving the plant the chance of a long term future.

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Media captionAberavon MP Stephen Kinnock is waiting to be briefed by a Tata Steel board member
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Media captionBBC business reporter Yogita Limaye, based in Mumbai, explains the decision facing Tata

Community and Mr Kinnock met Tata Steel executives on Monday night, with the talks being called "open and constructive" but with the warning that the company was facing challenges.

Neither union nor Tata would speak as the all-day meeting began.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said the UK government was prepared to consider "all options" to ensure steel production continued at the site.

"We are looking at all manner of options that may or may not be available to us as a government, all options," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It starts from a base of making sure that we continue to make steel in Port Talbot."

The final decision will be made by the 11-member Tata Steel board, led by chairman Cyrus Mistry.

It includes five members of the Tata Europe board but not Tata Steel Europe's new chief executive Hans Fischer, who was appointed earlier this month after the departure of Karl Koehler.

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Media captionBarry Evans, union official and a steelworker for 20 years, says there are a lot of nerves but still hope the plan will be backed
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Media captionThe Port Talbot works and its future are discussed by three generations of the same family who worked there

Mark Davies, of the Community union and a Port Talbot steelworker for nearly 34 years, said the workforce was still hopeful the plan would be accepted and that the UK and Welsh governments would help the industry.

He added: "Everyone is very worried. Morale is down but people are up for the fight, up for the challenge - they think they can succeed if we can get some backing behind us."

Image copyright Getty Images

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Image copyright Getty Images

WHO IS CYRUS MISTRY?

  • Aged 47, the son of an Irish-Indian construction tycoon, he led the family property business before joining Tata, becoming group chairman in 2012
  • His family has the largest share in Tata
  • Chairman of 10 Tata companies - ranging from cars, drinks to hotels and including Tata Steel; responsible for 600,000 workers in 150 countries.
  • A civil engineering degree from Imperial College, London, and management masters from London Business School
  • Low-profile, softly-spoken; profiles in India have called him "meticulous" and a "workaholic"; a family man who lists "playing golf occasionally" as his only interest in Who's Who

Analysis by BBC Wales business correspondent Brian Meechan, in Port Talbot

The site is losing a reported £1m a day and everyone accepts that is not sustainable.

The 750 redundancies outlined in the survival plan are already under way. The board in Mumbai is looking at whether the plan goes far enough. It is believed it wants it to be achieved in a year but many in Port Talbot say that is not possible in such a short time scale; 18 months to two years would be more likely.

There is also an extra £100m of investment that is being asked for, from the board.

It may have reached a point ultimately where they have decided it is not be worth putting that money into this site.

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