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Rally held in support of steel workers

A May Day rally has been held in Llanelli to show support for Tata steel workers and protest against public sector cuts.

Trade Union and political speakers also addressed the rally. Credit: Nicola Hendy

Members from groups including the Community Union, NUT, Unison and PCS gathered near the town hall at midday, with some supporting the call for the nationalisation of steel.

Trade Union and political speakers also addressed the rally.

Mark Evans from Unison said any job losses from Tata's Trostre plant would have a massive impact on Llanelli.

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'Government won't take more than 25% equity stake in Tata Steel'

Credit: PA

The government is not prepared to take more than a 25% equity stake in Tata Steel's assets, the business secretary has told a committee of MPs today.

He said that he wanted to see them sold as soon as possible.

Twenty five percent was the limit that I thought was necessary to show that on the one hand you're serious about helping ... but also not to put off potential investors by saying this is something the government seeks to control.

– Business Secretary Sajid Javid

He said that a number of potential buyers have told the government they would not take on pension liabilities, echoing comments made by the firm's new CEO Bimlendra Jha.

Javid said he did not see the pension liabilities as a big threat to the public purse.


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Business Secretary grilled by MPs over steel crisis

The business secretary has said that he would not have travelled to Australia and missed crisis talks over the sale of British steel plants, "if he had known how it would be reported."

Appearing before the Business Select Committee today, Sajid Javid said he did not believe a decision to immediately close the plants would be taken when he went on the March 29 trade mission.

"Obviously it was very far from home," he said. "I turned around and came back as quickly as I could."

He faced calls to quit after taking his teenage daughter on the trip to Sydney, instead of attending a meeting in Mumbai about the South Wales plant.

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Tata Steel warns of 'huge economic disaster' over pensions deficit

Credit: PA

Tata Steel has warned of a "huge economic and social disaster" if steps are not taken to solve Port Talbot's pension fund liability.

Bimlendra Jha, the firm's new chief executive, told MPs today that the South Wales plant's pension fund liability must be taken care of in order to find a buyer for the steel plant.

He said that there are solutions that would not involve public money.

The government has already said it looking at "separating" the old British Steel pension scheme, which has 130,000 members and is around £500 million in deficit, from Tata Steel.

If we don't solve it we are staring at some very bad consequences for the taxpayer ... We are staring at a huge economic and social disaster.

– Tata Steel CEO Bimlendra Jha
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Tata Steel: UK steel plants have 'structural disadvantages'

Port Talbot is one of the at-risk plants if a buyer cannot be found Credit: PA

The new CEO of Tata Steel UK has said that British steel plants have "structural disadvantages" that makes production unprofitable and has forced the company to put its assets up for sale.

Bimlendra Jha said that if energy prices were the same as in Germany for example, Tata Steel would be £40 million better off.

When you get headwinds such as a stronger currency, you only have to go over the Channel to buy products in an open market.


He told a committee of MPs that the firm is "determined" to find a credible buyer, but said the government will probably have to do more to help secure a sale.

Jha, who oversaw the sale of Tata Steel's Scunthorpe works earlier this month, said the firm has not discussed closing Port Talbot steelworks, which employs around 750 workers.

He said there is no "dead drop" deadline for the sale of Tata Steel's steel assets, but stressed that is a "matter of urgency" for the company.


Business Secretary to be questioned over steel crisis

The Business Secretary is to be questioned by MPs today over the crisis in the steel industry and the current efforts to save thousands of jobs.

Sajid Javid has already visited steel workers in Port Talbot. Credit: PA

Sajid Javid will appear before the Business Select Committee as the search continues to find a buyer for Tata Steel's UK assets.

Tata Chief Executive Bimlendra Jha, Gareth Stace of trade group UK Steel and Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the Community union, will also appear before the Committee.

Other witnesses will include Marc Meyohas of Greybull Capital, which is buying Tata's plant at Scunthorpe.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the Community union, will also appear before the Committee. Credit: PA

Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Tata Steel works in Port Talbot on Tuesday to assure workers, unions and bosses of the Government's commitment to support the future of steel-making at the under-threat plant. Mr Rickhuss said the Prime Minister had "looked proud steelworkers in the eye and promised to do all he could to protect their jobs", and said his union would "hold him at his word".

Union calls on Cameron to 'match words with real action'

David Cameron made a surprise visit to Port Talbot today. Credit: Benjamin Wright/PA Wire

Union bosses have welcomed the Prime Minister's visit to Port Talbot saying they're now waiting for him to 'match his words with real action."

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said he's been speaking regularly with UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid in recent weeks, but now David Cameron had met with workers and promised to do all he could.

The joint announcement by the UK and Welsh governments last week, including the proposal to take up to a 25 per cent stake in the business, was a big step forward and it was good to hear the Prime Minister reiterate that commitment today.

David Cameron has now joined the growing list of senior politicians who have visited Port Talbot, but today we made it clear that steelworks throughout England and Wales are also under threat. This is a national industrial crisis and the Prime Minister needs to act nationally and indeed globally to secure a sustainable future for the UK steel industry.

Steelworkers will now be watching and waiting for the Prime Minister to match his words with real action. We need immediate action to save the industry but also a long term plan to give UK steel making a fair chance to compete.

The Prime Minister has now seen first-hand the great blast furnaces of Port Talbot, both of which will be vital to any future success of the business.

He looked proud steelworkers in the eye and promised to do all he could to protect their jobs. Our 'Save Our Steel' campaign will continue as we hold him to his word

– Roy Rickhuss, Community Union

PM said he was 'unavailable' claims First Minister

The First Minister's political spokesperson has expressed "surprise and disappointment" that Carwyn Jones only learnt of the Prime Minister's visit to Port Talbot from Twitter. He claimed that David Cameron hadn't taken up previous invitations to Port Talbot or agreed to a meeting today to discuss the steel industry.

We were surprised and disappointed on hearing about the Prime Minister's visit via Twitter. We had invited him to Port Talbot previously, and indeed after various discussions and meetings the First Minister had undertaken on steel yesterday had asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister today. However, his office said he was unavailable. We've said throughout that we are willing to put our political differences aside in the interests of our steel industry, but it does require respect from all parties to make this work.

– Spokesperson for Carwyn Jones
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