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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Hope For Steelworkers After No 10 Summit

The Welsh First Minister says he is "encouraged" that jobs will be saved - as Sajid Javid begins a day of crucial meetings.
The Welsh First Minister has said a No 10 steel summit was "encouraging" - as Business Secretary Sajid Javid meets a potential buyer for the Port Talbot steelworks.
Carwyn Jones said the Government had been involved in discussions with more than one potential buyer for Tata Steel's UK business, adding: "They're early days yet, but we do have something to build on, even at this early stage."
Mr Jones said "nothing was off the table" at the talks attended by David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne - raising the prospect of the Government stepping in with public money to save 40,000 jobs linked to the UK steel industry.
Mr Jones said: "I wouldn't use the word nationalisation. What I am advocating is that if the UK Government needs to take over Tata's assets in the short term to enable the sale process to take place, then that's something the UK Government should consider.
Asked how the PM responded to his request, the first minister said: "Certainly nothing was off the table and that was encouraging."
Mr Jones also said Mr Cameron "recognised the need" for tariffs against cheap Chinese steel imports to be increased - after the UK was accused of blocking such a move in Europe.
Mr Jones said there was not an issue with pensions in the talks, adding that the need to safeguard Tata employees' pensions was also recognised during the meeting.
He added: "The Government has indicated that they want to take steps to help with that liability, because we know that without that being dealt with there won't be a sale."
The ongoing debate about the need to reduce energy tariffs for heavy industry was also moving forward, Mr Jones said.
The business secretary was also at the talks - before embarking on a series of crucial meetings for the future of UK steel.
Mr Javid is due to hold face-to-face talks in London with Liberty House owner Sanjeev Gupta, who is considering a rescue plan for Port Talbot - and possibly other Tata plants in the UK.
Later, he will fly to India to discuss the process for selling Tata's UK steel business with the company's chairman Cyrus Mistry.
He said: "It's right that there is a role here for the UK Government, I've tried to set out how we can help. The important thing is that, where the buyers are coming forward, we're ready to work with them."
Mr Gupta said this morning that it was "early days" in the sale process, but that he believed the business - said to be losing £1m a day at Port Talbot alone - could be turned round.
Asked if redundancies could be avoided, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "That would definitely be my objective."
He said production could be expanded but with different methods - a transition that would take years.
Before taking his evening flight to India, Mr Javid will also meet union leaders, who are calling on the Government not to allow a new owner to "cherry pick" assets and close parts of the Port Talbot plant.
Speaking at an event in Harlow, Essex, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said David Cameron must be prepared to take a public stake in the steel industry to protect workers' jobs and pensions.
He said: "The Government's ideological allergy to public ownership must not be allowed to prevent it taking the steps necessary to save UK steel."

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