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Anti-Tata chorus: UK TUs talk tough, seek meeting

Some British unions fear the Corus takeover may lead to severe job losses in the region, reports Suman Layak.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 22:36 IST
Suman Layak
Suman Layak

Two major British trade unions sounded notes of caution on the Corus takeover of Tata with one of them seeking a meeting with Ratan Tata. The company has seen 8,000 job cuts in the last eight years, mostly following major corporate developments.

The fears originate from the Tata plan to ship slabs and billets from India to Corus plants in United Kingdom and The Netherlands, and use the Corus facilities for finishing. The question is whether Corus will continue to make steel from iron ore in Europe.

Michael Leahy, the general secretary of steel trade union community said in a statement put on the community trade union website "Community shall be seeking talks with Tata to discuss its investment strategy for the Corus business, in particular the UK operations."

He added, "…what we are not prepared to accept is to see the accelerated or slow demise of the UK steel industry. Tata should be under no illusions that we will resist any attempt to achieve this using all the resources at our disposal. We believe that the current Corus UK operations are of vital strategic importance to the UK economy and that large parts of our manufacturing industry are only viable because of it. We would expect the UK government to add its voice and support to ensure continued investment in the UK steel industry."

Keith Hazelwood of the GMB Union that represents almost seven lakh workers in United Kingdom said "GMB is worried that our thousands of members will be expected to foot the bill for the takeover with their jobs."

However, a UK based analyst from a merchant banking firm that is also advising Corus said on condition of anonymity, "I look at these comments as cautionary statements that are not too aggressive."

"Corus has a unit here in Wales which is sometimes politically sensitive. Then they have another unit in northern England and one in The Netherlands. I feel there is more political sensitivity in The Netherlands than in Britain on this issue," he added.

The Financial Times said in an editorial on the issue of shipping slabs from India: "It may be possible to ship cheap slab steel from Tata's plants in India for finishing at Corus' plants in Europe, but that is years off and will be constrained by high transport costs."

First Published: Feb 01, 2007 18:35 IST