Glim­mer of hope for fu­ture of Cly­de­bridge

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Kenny Smith

Work­ers at Cam­bus­lang’s Cly­de­bridge steel­works have wel­comed the news that the plant’s own­ers will con­sider other op­tions over its fu­ture.

It was re­vealed in Oc­to­ber that Cly­de­bridge was on the verge of be­ing sold by Tata Steel to the Klesch Group, lead­ing to fears over the fu­ture of the Cam­bus­lang plant.

But bil­lion­aire owner Gary Klesch’s op­er­a­tion was ac­cused in Par­lia­ment of “as­set-strip­ping” by Ruther­glen MP Tom Greatrex. He pointed to two alu­minium smelters the Klesch Group ac­quired in Hol­land and Ger­many, which sub­se­quently went bank­rupt amid huge po­lit­i­cal rows about sub­si­dies and money chan­nelled to a tax haven.

How­ever, after ap­peals in Par­lia­ment and through a num­ber of meet­ings, it has been re­vealed that Tata Steel is open to al­ter­na­tive plans.

Tata Steel chair­man Cyrus Mistry and Euro­pean chief ex­ec­u­tive Karl Koehler met with mem­bers of the UK Na­tional Trade Union Steel co­or­di­nat­ing com­mit­tee, which is made up of Com­mu­nity, Unite and GMB, to­gether with the chair of Tata Steel’s Euro­pean Works Coun­cil.

In a joint state­ment, they said: “Based on mu­tual re­spect, we have had a con­struc­tive meet­ing to­day where we agreed a way for­ward that will en­sure that there is full and mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion be­tween Tata Steel and the trade unions and works coun­cils in Europe over the po­ten­tial sale of the Long Prod­ucts Europe business.

“Tata Steel will give se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore a po­ten­tial sale to al­ter­na­tives put for­ward by the trade unions and their con­sul­tants in the in­ter­est of its em­ploy­ees. The company also con­firmed it would act as a re­spon­si­ble seller tak­ing into ac­count As­sur­ances Business Sec­re­tary Vince Cable the in­ter­ests of all stake­hold­ers.

“We agreed that the con­sul­ta­tion process should be con­cluded be­fore a sale is com­pleted.

“We un­der­stand that this is a pe­riod of un­cer­tainty for the work­force at Long Prod­ucts Europe, but this time is nec­es­sary to en­able the com­ple­tion of both the due dili­gence and con­sul­ta­tion pro­cesses.”

Tom Greatrex MP has asked the gov­ern­ment’s Business Sec­re­tary Vince Cable to look into the mat­ter, and also raised his con­cerns with Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron.

In Par­lia­ment, Tom said: “I thank the Sec­re­tary of State for his en­gage­ment with the all-party group for the steel and metal re­lated in­dus­try. Its mem­bers are from across the whole of the UK and they are con­cerned about the Tata Steel sit­u­a­tion.

“May I im­plore him again— this was raised ear­lier—to en­sure that his depart­ment’s en­gage­ment with the Klesch group is pred­i­cated on try­ing to se­cure as many of those jobs as pos­si­ble for the long term? Peo­ple in the steel in­dus­try in my con­stituency and across the UK are very con­cerned, given the Klesch group’s record in other parts of Europe.”

Mr Cable replied: “I can give the Hon­or­able Gen­tle­man ex­actly that as­sur­ance. We should lis­ten to what he has to say. Of course, we are con­cerned that the Bri­tish steel in­dus­try should suc­ceed.”

Speak­ing to the Re­former, Tom said: “I raised this mat­ter again in Par­lia­ment with Vince Cable, as Sec­re­tary of State


Tom Greatrex MP for Business.

“Last Mon­day, we had a meet­ing be­tween my­self and other steel area MPs, and the Com­mu­nity union.

“One of the things we are press­ing Tata to do is to look at other op­tions, so the joint state­ment was quite wel­come, in­di­cat­ing a shift from Tata Steel who had pre­vi­ously in­di­cated there was only one op­tion, and now, they are look­ing at al­ter­na­tives.

“The union can make a strong case for ei­ther Tata re­tain­ing the long prod­ucts di­vi­sion, or con­sider the op­tion of sell­ing to another business.

“There are a lot of con­cerns about sell­ing to Klesch as there are wor­ries about as­set strip­ping and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ism, which could lead to the end of the steel in­dus­try in this coun­try.

“What’s wel­come from the state­ment is Tata Steel have a more open mind than they did after the pre­vi­ous meet­ing a few weeks ago.

“The work­force has been ex­tremely loyal over the years, after Tata took over from Corus, and ev­ery­thing the work­ers have been asked to do, they have done, while still meet­ing very high stan­dards.

“Man­age­ment are recog­nis­ing there’s a de­ter­mi­na­tion amongst the cur­rent work­force, sup­ported by their union, and a num­ber of us in Par­lia­ment.

“What ap­peared to be a pretty poor only op­tion is now a last restort, which is good news.

“The EU is an­nounc­ing new in­fra­struc­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties, and there’s a great chance here for Cly­de­bridge and Dalzell to cap­i­talise on those - you don’t want to miss out on a chance like that, rather than mak­ing a short-term decision.”

Wor­ries Cly­de­bridge’s fu­ture is per­haps slightly less un­cer­tain this week

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