POLITICS

Steel Industry Crisis Should See Parliament Recalled, Jeremy Corbyn Says

Government hints at state intervention to rescue Port Talbot plant

30/03/2016 12:51 | Updated 30 March 2016
PA/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn's demand for Parliament to be recalled to discuss the crisis in the steel industry has been rejected by Downing Street.

On Tuesday evening steel giant Tata decided to sell its UK assets, including the country's biggest plant at Port Talbot in South Wales.

The decision puts Tata’s 15,000 workers in the UK - including 4,000 at Port Talbot - at risk of losing their jobs.

The plant is losing is losing £1m a day.

Analysis by the IPPR think tank released today also estimated in total 40,000 jobs could be lost in UK steel-making communities if no buyer is found for Tata Steel’s UK business.

The House of Commons is currently not sitting as it is Easter recess and MPs are not due to return to Westminster until April 11. 

This morning the government signalled it could take temporary ownership of troubled British steelworks to keep the furnaces burning while looking for a private sector buyer.

Business minister Anna Soubry said state control of Tata’s plants in Port Talbot, Rotherham, Corby and Shotton, was an "option". Soubry said it could take months to secure a private sector buyer for the plants.

The nationalisation of the industry would be a highly unusual step for a Conservative government to take. But Labour MPs are demanding action. And Tory MP Tom Pursgolve said "everything must be done" to rescue the industry.

Welsh actor Michael Sheen, who grew up in the Port Talbot area, has called on the government to "do all they can". He said on Twitter: "Welsh and UK government must do all they can now to show support for steelworkers in Port Talbot and across the UK.

"Steel industry hit hard by '08 bank crisis. Hope as much support for steel industry and workers now they face their time of greatest need."

Business Secretary Sajid Javid is cutting short his trip to Australia and returning to the UK because of the steel industry crisis.

He had been criticised by union officials and opposition MPs for not travelling to Mumbai to lobby the board of steel giant Tata.

Yesterday Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, whose constituency includes Part Talbot told The Huffington Post UK Javid’s failure to meet with Tata bosses in India symbolised the government’s “abject failure” when it came to helping the steel industry.

The IPPR said today supply chain job losses are likely to hit manufacturers and suppliers of iron, manufacturers of machinery, and processors and suppliers of coke and petroleum.

Alfie Stirling, IPPR Research Fellow, said: "British steel is facing extremely difficult trading conditions with slowing demand for steel from China having knock on effects for the industry right across the world.

"In addition there is currently significant state investment in new steel facilities and plants from regions that are traditionally net importers of steel, such as North Africa and South East Asia. Combined with existing excess capacity in Europe, the US, Russia and China, this is widening the gap between the amount of steel the world can make and the amount it actually needs. 

"The costs of sustaining all this excess capacity is biting heavily into the profit margins of steel producers around the world."

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