TATA Steel could close down its remaining UK operations as soon as 28 May if a viable deal to sell the assets is not concluded, the Financial Times has claimed.
The deadline has been set by the firm’s Indian parent. A ‘goodwill’ concession could see an extension to mid-June if an agreement is close and requires fine-tuning. Labour has called for the government to part-nationalise the UK arm of Tata Steel to secure jobs in the short term and give time for a sustainable deal to be negotiated.
The government has also previously indicated it could help plug a £2bn pension scheme deficit and offer further support on energy bills and by offering procurement contracts on its infrastructure projects. One buyer, Liberty House, has so far come forward publicly, although there is no certainty an offer will follow. Owner Sanjeev Gupta is known to want to repurpose Tata’s blast furnace at Port Talbot, which would be unpopular with unions.
Tata’s Indian parent company has confirmed there is more than just the one party interested in buying the stricken assets. In fact, there have been ‘many tens’ of expressions of interest. But on the other hand, figures close to the sale process said that most of these are for bits of the company and that the chances of a deal to rescue the whole operation in one piece are ‘remote’.
‘There has been a lot of people who have expressed interest … I don’t want to give a number, but it is in tens, many tens actually,’ said Koushik Chatterjee, the group executive director of Tata Steel, reports The Guardian. Buyers are ‘interested in bits’ and are especially wary of taking on the Port Talbot blast furnace in South Wales.
It is clear that only action by workers at all Tata Steel plants including at Port Talbot and Scunthorpe to occupy the plants and demand their full nationalisation under workers’ management can save the jobs and the industry. Occupation will be the basis for the organisation of a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism.