Tories fail to lift a finger as foreign firm votes to sell its UK operation

Last Updated: March 29, 2016By
The sun sets on the steelworks at Port Talbot. Will the Conservative Government have the foresight to provide for a new dawn?

The sun sets on the steelworks at Port Talbot. Will the Conservative Government have the foresight to provide for a new dawn? (I think we all know the answer to that one.)

If ever there was a reason not to vote Conservative in the upcoming regional elections, it’s the sell-off of Tata Steel that was announced yesterday.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has called for the National Assembly of Wales to be recalled after a meeting of Tata board members in Mumbai decided to sell off their entire British steel business, threatening thousands of jobs in Port Talbot.

His demand can only be seen as an attempt to limit the damage done to Tory election chances by his colleagues in Westminster. While the Labour MP for Aberavon, Stephen Kinnock, was in Mumbai fighting for his constituents’ jobs, the UK’s business minister, Sajid Javid, was off on a junket to Australia where he is to deliver a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce there.

Doesn’t that tell you exactly how much value the Conservative Party ascribes to the UK steel industry?

The Huffington Post reports:

Instead of flying to Mumbai to put pressure on the company to support a turnaround plan, [Sajid] Javid is due to go to Australia this week, where he will address the British Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

No other Government minister is scheduled to travel to India.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who is in Mumbai representing hundreds of his constituents who face losing their jobs, claimed Javid’s no show symbolised the UK Government’s “abject failure” when it came to helping the steel industry.

He told The Huff Post UK: “This is deeply disappointing but not surprising. It reflects their abject failure to lift a finger for the British steel industry since 2010.

“They would rather just roll out the red carpet to China.”

A spokesman for Community, the steelworkers’ union, said Javid’s presence would have shown Tata how “serious” the potential job losses were to the UK.

They said: “That would have been very helpful. It would have been great to have somebody over there. “

The UK steel industry has taken a battering in recent years, and since last September thousands of jobs have Scotland, the North East and Wales.

Cheap steel from China is one of the reasons behind turmoil in the industry, with allegations the Asian country is selling the product at unrealistically low prices on the world stage.

The Labour Party has shown strong solidarity with steel workers ever since the first closures were announced. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the Tories to part-nationalise the steel industry after 4,000 jobs were lost in October.

Yesterday, he said:

“I am deeply concerned at the news coming out of Tata’s board meeting in Mumbai.

“Ministers must act now to protect the steel industry and the core of manufacturing in Britain.

“It is vital that the Government intervenes to maintain steel production in Port Talbot, both for the workforce and the wider economy, if necessary by taking a public stake in the industry.”

Considering the state of the steel market, the best course of action now would be for the UK government to nationalise the Tata steelworks, but under a Tory government the chances of that happening are remote.

The Tories are, after all, partly to blame for the UK steel crisis. George Osborne keeps handing contracts to foreign firms:


As for job losses – when did Tories ever care about those?

Ah yes – when it suits them.

As Vix Horn pointed out on Twitter: “They won’t care about British jobs until they need to defend obscene spending on Trident – “Think of the jobs!”

It will be our job to point out their double-standards to them when that happens – and to Andrew RT Davies now.

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  1. Ian Fraser March 30, 2016 at 12:29 am - Reply

    Failure? Not as far as the Tories see it. Break all the assets of the state, sell off to capitalists or just let rot along side the workers and their families. Increase unemployment and lie about the figures, drive down wages and keep the people under the threat of worse to come too frightened to fight. Lie about the cure for all the misery and get re-elected. The future? Yes. But ALL the above, they’ve done already.

  2. Stephen Mellor March 30, 2016 at 4:09 am - Reply

    The fingers that need to raised are:
    * less regulation that raise costs
    * freer labour markets that make hire /fire too expensive
    * removal of minimum wage (though that hardly applies here)

    It’s simple enough: government raises costs -> company becomes uncompetitive.

    • Mike Sivier March 30, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      That’s true.
      For example, the privatisation of electricity, and its sale to – for example – French nationalised companies, meant that UK-based steel companies were charged much more for their energy than French steel companies. That’s the Conservative Government raising costs and making British-based firms uncompetitive.
      Meanwhile, George Osborne is bending over backwards for the Chinese. Why?

  3. Joan Edington March 30, 2016 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    This has been on the cards for months so it was fairly obvious that the Tories were going to do nothing about it. Nationalisation would be the ideal solution in my mind but, in the absence of that possibility with a Tory government, they should at least follow the example of the Scottish Government who worked hard for many months to find a buyer for the remaining Scottish steelworks, keeping the workforce mothballed in the meantime. That buyer is not able to take them all back short-term but has promised (hopefully they will keep to it) that they intend to expand and return the rest to work ASAP. There was a similar process with a Clyde shipyard that went into administration in 2014. The new owner now employs more people than were originally made redundant and has taken on 150 apprentices. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Unfortunately the Tories are unlikely to have the will.

  4. perryk5256 March 30, 2016 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    NPT is a Labour constituency, if you don’t vote Conservative, then your job isn’t worth saving! Conservative MEP’s have been arguing against any increase in Chinese steel import tariffs, despite other EU countries wanting to raise duties. The article above tells you why – and whose side they are on.

  5. Meg Marshall March 31, 2016 at 4:46 am - Reply

    Would love to know what the minimum hourly rate for steel workers is? Google like mad but it seems to be a secret although hints at £13 cane up?

  6. mrmarcpc March 31, 2016 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    They didn’t bother to save the steel plant in Teesside so why do people think they’ll bother now, they won’t really be bothered, they’ll still get their shareholder kickback so they’re happy!

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