Union fears at Tata sale

Roy Rickhuss at Tata Steel Rotherham
Roy Rickhuss at Tata Steel Rotherham

The steelworkers’ trade union Community has expressed concerns about the “tight timescales” Tata Steel is allowing to sell its remaining UK assets.

The union’s comments follow a question to the Prime Minister in Parliament by Stephen Kinnock MP, querying whether enough time would be allowed for the sales process.

Koushik Chatterjee, group executive director, has set no deadline and insisted the sale would be conducted in a “time-bound and credible manner.”

But on a visit to Rotherham last month business minister Anna Soubry said they were working to a six-week deadline - which would be around May 28.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: “We have serious concerns that Tata Steel will not keep its commitment to be a responsible seller and will impose an arbitrary deadline that is too soon for credible investors to develop a viable bid.

“Since Tata put the business up for sale we have had discussions with a range of stakeholders. A number have expressed concerns about the tight timescales that Tata wants to impose.

“These are national industrial assets that are up for sale so this isn’t something that can happen overnight. Tata allowed time for the sale of its Long Products business to a credible investor, it should provide the same opportunity to bidders for the rest of its UK business.

“But nobody wants this process to drag on.”

Tata UK employs 12,000, including 2,172 in the speciality steels business in South Yorkshire. Some 65 expressions of interest for all or parts of the business were submitted before a deadline on Tuesday. It is understood approved bidders will be contacted in 14 days.