The steel trade unions have welcomed the Government's consultation on changes to pensions law as part of efforts to save Tata Steel and called on the company to uphold its "legal, social and moral responsibilities" to steel workers.
In a combined statement, Community, Unite and GMB endorsed the move to avoid the "unmitigated disaster" of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) going into the financial safety net of the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) with a sale of Tata's assets.
It is important that all stakeholders continue to explore all available options that avoid the need for the scheme to go into the PPF, which would be the worst deal for scheme members.
It is important to remember that Tata Steel remains the employer and sponsor of the BSPS. They have significant legal, social and moral responsibilities with regards to the British steel industry and those men and women who have worked and continue to work within it.
The Human Resources director for Tata Steel's European operations said the consultation would enable a "better outcome" for the vast majority of members of the BSPS.
We welcome the inclusion of an option to change the way that future payments in the scheme are increased. This option, which is fully supported by the pension scheme's trustees, provides a way for the scheme to continue to operate on a well-funded, low-risk basis indefinitely.
The British Steel Pension Scheme was set up on the basis that pension increases would be provided so long as they remained affordable. The proposed legislative changes would allow this unusual rule to operate as intended. That means it's unlikely that a regulatory change would affect other final salary pension schemes.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed the Government is set to launch an "open consultation" on changes to pensions law as part of efforts to save Tata Steel despite being "very wary of setting a precedent".
The consultation, which will run until June 23, sets out a number of different options for the British Steel Pension Scheme and its 130,000 members.
The scheme includes 14,000 people currently employed by Tata or another employer, 32,000 are deferred (no longer employed by Tata but below the scheme's normal pension age) and 84,000 pensioners.
The Government has been warned against the impact of setting a precedent by seeking to change pension law.
"No decision (on Tata's future) has been made," Mr Javid told MPs. "We are very wary of setting a precedent ... this is very much about this scheme and this scheme only in these very unique circumstances."
Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle warned against cutting the fund's long-term liabilities by benchmarking it to the consumer price index (CPI) rather than the higher retail price index (RPI), saying: "This change is currently illegal."
Hundreds of steelworkers from across the country are marching through London later to highlight the crisis in their industry.
They are demanding the Government ensures the responsible sale of Tata Steel's UK assets - which affects up to 2,000 jobs in South Yorkshire.
It comes ahead of a meeting between Tata Steel board members in Mumbai to draw up a shortlist of potential buyers. Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Welsh First Minsiter Carwyn Jones have also travelled to the Indian city for talks.
As negotiations continue, workers from steel plants across the UK will march through central London to keep up the pressure on the company and the government.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady will criticise Chinese steel dumping at today's event.
Chinese steel dumping is wrecking the British steel industry. Thousands of jobs and whole communities are under threat, but the Government still supports giving China special market access.
The United States has sensibly levied serious tariffs to stop Chinese steel dumping. We should do the same. Market economy access for China is the last thing British steelworkers need. The Government must reverse course.
The Board of Tata Steel Europe has announced that seven expressions of interest submitted for Tata Steel’s UK business, including its plants in South Yorkshire, have been immediately taken forward to the next stage of the sale process.
In addition, Tata Steel Europe is clarifying outstanding points with a number of other parties who have submitted an expression of interest.
We have been pleased with the response to the initial stage of the global sales process for Tata Steel’s UK business. Today’s announcement by Tata Steel Europe marks another important stage gate in this process. The expressions of interest received have been through a robust initial assessment process with inputs received from the UK Government whose views have been considered by the Board.
We believe that the bids being taken forward offer future prospects of sustainability for the UK business as a whole. The sales process will continue as announced earlier in an expedited and robust manner to deliver greater clarity for all key stakeholders such as employees, customers and suppliers.
Whilst the sales process continues, Tata Steel’s business in the UK under the new leadership team continues to focus on the business performance.
After weeks of uncertainty there have been major developments today over the future of Tata Steel. The Government says it's preparing a financial package worth hundreds of millions of pounds for any potential buyers.
Steel expert Roger Maggs, who is heading the consortium, welcomed the intervention.
But Phillip Booth, Editorial and Programme Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, thinks the Government shouldn't be using tax payers' money in this way.
There's a another possible lifeline for 2,000 South Yorkshire steel jobs with a potential Tata management buyoutRead the full story ›
Workers have voted to accept a temporary 3% pay cut and changes to terms and conditions as part of the deal to sell Tata Steel's Long Products business to Greybull Capital.
Members of Community, the GMB and Unite backed the changes, aimed at paving the way for the deal, which includes the huge steel plant at Scunthorpe.
Community officer Steve McCool said it was an "extremely difficult" decision, but the vote was a "major step forward" towards securing the future of the business.
The sale to Greybull is a rare piece of positive news for the industry, which is in crisis because of cheap Chinese imports and other issues such as energy costs.
Tata is looking for buyers for the rest of its UK business, including the Port Talbot works in South Wales, with thousands of jobs hanging in the balance.
An investment company is considering a takeover of South Yorkshire's steel works.
Greybull Capital is already close to a deal with Tata Steel over the possible takeover of its Long Products business in Scunthorpe.
Now it has been reported that the firm is interested in doing a deal that would safeguard the Speciality Steel branch of the business - which produces high-end steel for aircraft, oil drilling and cars from two sites in Rotherham and Stocksbridge.
The news comes as steelworkers in Scunthorpe ballot over the conditions of a possible takeover.
A ballot of Tata steel workers in Scunthorpe on whether to support cuts to both pay and pension contributions is due to close today.
Employees have had two weeks in which to cast their votes in a ballot which could pave the way for a takeover by Greybull Capital.
Meanwhile, representatives from the major steel producing countries have been holding talks in Brussels to discuss how to deal with the excess capacity which is crippling companies and jeopardising thousands of jobs in our region.
Tata, which has plants in Sheffield and Rotherham, revealed it had contacted 190 potential financial and industrial investors worldwide since launching its sale process a week ago.
And China says it is committed to tackling its overcapacity of steel production which is blamed for the crisis in the UK industry, according to the Government.
The Commons debate, which is scheduled to last up to three hours, has been given an emergency slot amid growing fears for the industry.Read the full story ›