THE Transport and General Workers Union has reacted with caution to the news that Indian conglomerate Tata has bought steelmaker Corus, formerly British Steel, in a deal worth a reported £4.3bn.
John Rowse, T&G national secretary for manufacturing, said details of how the deal would impact on UK operations were still patchy with neither side giving anything away.
‘Tata have made no secret of their desire to get hold of Corus’ cheap slab steel and it looks like they’ve made progress towards that aim today,’ he said.
‘But this is still a big operation in the UK and we would want to know what the deal means for our members’ jobs in the manufacturing side of Corus as well as all the former workers whose pensions are also very much on our mind.
‘The assurances on jobs look very brittle at the moment’
Peter Hughes, T&G regional industrial organiser in Wales, stressed the concerns about jobs in the region where the T&G has around 1500 members.
‘There has been no consultation with the unions on this sale and consequently there are worries of a new round of job losses.’
Also Commenting on the Tata steel of India takeover bid, Michael Leahy, Community General Secretary, spoke up on behalf of the National Steel Co-Ordinating Committee (Amicus, GMB, T&G and UCATT), representing Corus’ UK employees.
‘In the past few years Corus has turned itself round and become a profitable and efficient steel producer.
‘Given this – which we believe is in no small part down to the performance of UK steelworkers – and the trend towards consolidation in the industry, it is understandable why it should be an attractive proposition for Tata.
‘Community shall be seeking urgent talks with Tata to discuss their plans for the business.
‘In particular, we wish to discuss their plans for further investment in Corus’ UK operations.
‘In addition, we also shall be seeking guarantees on the terms and conditions of employment for Corus‚ UK employees, particularly on pay and pensions.
‘We shall also be seeking talks with relevant government departments to establish what their expectations of Tata’s takeover of such a strategically important UK company are.
‘We would expect the government to make clear that it wishes Tata to maintain UK steelmaking capacity.’
Corus employs 47,300 people worldwide, including 24,000 in the UK at plants at Port Talbot, Scunthorpe and Rotherham.
Analysts said yesterday that in the event of an economic downturn, Tata Steel would have difficulty paying off the £1bn of debt it is to take on to buy Corus.
In those circumstances Corus’ pension fund, which has 166,000 members in the UK, will be threatened, as well as tens of thousands of jobs.