Companies with Indian roots are making waves in the British industrial circles – for the wrong reasons. Tata Steel, one of Europe’s largest steel makers, on Tuesday announced major cutbacks and restructuring of its assets in the UK, a day after 16 companies of the Swraj Paul-led Caparo Group were put under administration.
Britain’s steel industry is reeling under dumping of Chinese steel, high energy costs and taxes. Coincidentally, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here on a high-profile four-day visit on Tuesday. The industrial crisis dominated the House of Commons on Tuesday, and Prime Minister David Cameron assured MPs that he would take up the issue with President Xi.
Tata Steel’s Long Products Europe business, while announcing it would stop production of steel plate, specifically identified China as the source of cheap imports. The changes would lead to around 1,200 job losses – about 900 in Scunthorpe and 270 in Scotland, as well as some at other Long Products Europe sites.
Plate mills in Scunthorpe, Dalzell and Clydebridge would be mothballed while one of the two coke ovens at the Scunthorpe steelworks would be closed, the company said.
Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “The UK steel industry is struggling for survival in the face of extremely challenging market conditions. We need a fairer system to encourage growth. The European Commission needs to do much more to deal with unfairly traded imports – inaction threatens the future of the entire European steel industry.”
Caparo Group companies are active in UK steel and associated engineering businesses such as forging and pressing of metal products for aerospace, automotive and other industries, and production of fastenings, wire, tubes and other accessories.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which was appointed administrator for Caparo, said it would be “rapidly assessing all options for the businesses through this week and beyond”.
Nearly 1,700 people employed by Caparo in Britain may lose jobs. Just last week, SSI’s steel mill in Redcar was closed down, shedding 1,700 jobs.