Wales

Calls for assembly recall over possible Tata UK sale

Port Talbot steelworks Image copyright Getty Images

Calls for the Welsh Assembly to be recalled have been made after Tata confirmed it is considering selling its UK business.

The decision was announced after the Indian company held a board meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday.

AMs are currently on an Easter break but with the election campaign under way there are no plans for the Senedd to meet until after polling day.

Tata said it would "explore all options", including "divestment".

In a joint statement, the Welsh and UK governments said they were both "working tirelessly to look at all viable options to keep a strong British steel industry at the heart of our manufacturing base".

The decision puts the jobs of thousands of UK workers under threat - including those in Port Talbot, Trostre in Llanelli, Llanwern in Newport and Shotton in Flintshire.

It came after Tata announced plans to cut 1,000 jobs - 750 at Port Talbot - in January.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said "no stone will be left unturned" in supporting Welsh steelworkers and their families.

'Above party politics'

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood both backed the idea of recalling the assembly - an idea also supported by Mr Jones.

Any recall would need the approval of Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler and would need to happen before 6 April - the pre-election point at which members are no longer officially AMs.

Commenting on reports of the sale, Mr Davies said it was "quite clear that the assembly must now be recalled prior to dissolution".

He said the issue "goes above party politics" and that "all parties will have to work together" to ensure a successful sale and "a sustainable future for the industry in Wales".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMark Davies of the Community union speaks to BBC Wales' business correspondent Brian Meechan

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood said: "If it proves to be true that Tata intends to sell the Port Talbot steelworks, politicians from all parties and from within the Welsh and UK governments must work together to secure the future of the plant."

The priority now was to seek out a reliable potential buyer, she added.

In a statement, the first minster said: "Whilst we have serious disagreements with the UK Government on many issues at the moment, we will work with them, and anyone else, who can help to secure a sustainable steel industry in Wales.

"Wales has faced up to tough times before, and we will always stand in solidarity with our brilliant, skilled workforce and with our communities."

'Disappointment'

Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock told the BBC he was "very disappointed that the turn-around plan was not accepted".

"The fundamental point is that the fight is always on to ensure that we continue to make steel in Port Talbot.

"If that's under the ownership of Tata Steel or another company will remain to be seen."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionStephen Kinnock said he was 'disappointed' over news Tata UK may be sold

General secretary of the Community union Roy Rickhuss, who was in Mumbai as part of the delegation meeting Tata, said their "worst fear" had not been realised.

"We believe we have got a position that is better than we expected, in regards to the strong indication and rumours before we came here that the potential closure not just of Port Talbot but potentially of other assets within the UK is not being considered," he said.

"It's not an ideal situation. Nobody is saying it's what we wanted. What we wanted was for the Tata board to buy into the turn-around plan."

'Deteriorating performance'

The Tata board said in a statement it had "noted with deep concern the deteriorating financial performance of the UK subsidiary in the last twelve months".

It said global steel demand had remained "muted", while trading conditions in the UK and Europe had "deteriorated".

The board had come to the "unanimous conclusion" that a transformation plan put forward was "unaffordable", the statement said.

"Following the strategic view taken by the Tata Steel Board regarding the UK business, it has advised the Board of its European holding company... to explore all options for portfolio restructuring including the potential divestment of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts," it added.

More on this story