UK steel union chief heads to Mumbai to meet Tata board

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 24, 2016

Community, one of the largest unions representing Tata Steel workers, has launched an emotional campaign, as its head prepares to travel to Mumbai to meet with the Tata board ahead of a board meeting on Tuesday, which unions believe could determine the future of Port Talbot, one of Tata Steel’s major UK plants.

The union has released a video featuring present and past workers of the plant, and family members and children, in which they recount the importance of the plant to their lives, including giving jobs, homes, putting “food on the table” and building “lives and communities”.

“It’s part of our identity. It’s who we are. We won’t let it die,” says one of the workers featured in the online video. General Secretary of Community Roy Rickhuss is due to arrive in India on Monday, along with Stephen Kinnock, the MP for Port Talbot, and two steel workers.

A number of press reports in the UK over the past few days have suggested that the board might not back a two-year turnaround plan brought in earlier this year. The news channel ITV Wales reported that the time scale for the turnaround had been “vastly shortened” rendering it ‘unfeasible”.

“It is thought the board meeting next week could recommend closure,” the report said.

Tata has maintained that it had invested significantly in its UK operations but had been forced to take steps to cut costs in the face of “extremely challenging market conditions.” “This is an absolutely critical time for the UK steel industry. The environment for steel making is not improving and Tata Steel continues to invest considerable amounts into its UK business just to sustain operations,” said a spokesperson.

Kinnock asked British Prime Minister David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday this week to call on Tata to secure the future of the plant. Responding to it Cameron said that the government would indeed be “making sure” that Tata and others understood the value of the steel industry. “There’s a government, which within the limits that we have, wants to be very supportive and very helpful.”

Published on March 24, 2016
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