Tata Port Talbot steelworks closure 'could hit 15,000 jobs'

Port Talbot plant Image copyright Reuters

About 15,000 jobs could be affected if a buyer is not found for Port Talbot's steelworks, a councillor has claimed.

Indian owner Tata Steel is selling its entire loss-making UK business but did not give an "open ended" commitment to keep plants open during the sale.

Port Talbot is Tata's biggest UK plant with about 4,000 workers but councillor Tony Taylor, said closure would have a much wider impact.

He said the Welsh and UK governments needed to step in and help.

But Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out nationalisation at a meeting on Thursday.

He said the government was "doing everything it can" to resolve the steel crisis but said nationalisation was not the right answer.

He said the situation in Port Talbot was of "deep concern" and there were "no guarantees of success".

Mr Cameron defended the way crisis had been handled, insisting the intervention had stopped an outright closure.

The Welsh Assembly has been recalled to meet on 4 April and First Minister Carwyn Jones is due to speak to Tata bosses later on Thursday.

Image caption Approximate number of workers at Tata's plants in Wales

Ministers said they were considering "all options" for the Port Talbot plant, which is said to be losing £1m a day.

One option would be a management buy-out.

Sources said unions and management at Tata Steel had already come up with a turnaround plan for the 100-year-old plant.

Their original restructuring plan - made after Tata announced in January 1,050 jobs would go - was rejected on Tuesday when the firm chose to sell up at a board meeting in Mumbai.

Mr Taylor said: "You've got to take into account about 3,000 directly employed, 3,000 contractors, 6,000 in the supply chain and then you've got people who rely on the steel industry.

"You're talking about 15,000 jobs could be lost in a community like Neath Port Talbot."

He added: "The people in there can build the best steel in the entire world. They are the most professional workers I've worked with over the last couple of years and certainly they need a chance to survive.

"If that means the government coming in and providing short-term assistance, then so be it.

"Give us a chance on a level playing field.

"If you're going to bring in a new buyer we've got to really make sure there's something there for them to buy.

"In the short term, we need the Welsh Government and the Westminster government to work in partnership to get in a short-term impetus into the plant so a new buyer can invest in confidence and ensure there's a sustainable steel industry left for the future generations."

Tata has other Welsh plants at Trostre, Shotton, Llanwern and Newport, while UK plants in Rotherham and Corby are also affected.

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