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Tata: the folly of foreign control

Tata was not able to take a long-term view on steel production in the UK. The whole Tata group has serious problems because of the way in which it has built up debt and hit snags and delays in its developments in India. This illustrates the folly of leaving strategic industry in the hands of owners based outside Britain. In the end, their own interests prevail.

Greybull Capital has agreed to buy Tata’s Long Products Division; Scunthorpe is the main plant. It is reported to want to use the name “British Steel”, currently owned by Tata. Talk of £400 million investment is more promising, but that can’t be effective without government support and intervention. We can’t rely on a government promise of a 25 per cent stake “if necessary” as a guarantee for security. The government must be held to that and more.

The Community, Unite and GMB unions completed a consultative ballot on 19 April about temporary changes to terms and conditions, as part of the deal. All unions voted to accept.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “The UK government still has a lot to do too in ensuring that steelmaking can thrive and that British steelworkers can compete with their global competitors on an even playing field. This means going further on procurement for defence and infrastructure projects by compelling the use of British steel, as well as going further in tackling the dumping of cheap imports and high energy costs.”

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