Steelworkers march over crisis as Tata compiles list of bidders for UK assets


Hundreds of steelworkers will stage a march today to highlight the crisis in their industry as a shortlist of bidders was being drawn up for the UK assets of Tata. 

The board of the Indian conglomerate will meet in Mumbai to discuss the prospects for a sale which would save thousands of jobs.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have travelled to Mumbai to hold talks with company officials.

Up to seven bids were made but Tata is expected to cut the number down to two or three before making a decision in the coming weeks.

Workers from plants across the UK will march through central London to keep up pressure on the company and the Government.

The TUC has called on ministers to stop supporting China's bid for EU market economy status.

General secretary Frances O'Grady will tell today's event: "Chinese steel dumping is wrecking the British steel industry. Thousands of jobs and whole communities are under threat, but the Government still supports giving China special market access. 

"The United States has sensibly levied serious tariffs to stop Chinese steel dumping. We should do the same.

"Market economy access for China is the last thing British steelworkers need. The Government must reverse course."

Angela Eagle, shadow business secretary, said: "Today hundreds of steel workers will march in London as they anxiously await the outcome of the Tata sale process.

"They are standing up for their jobs, for this vital foundation industry, and Labour stands with them.

"The Government have been slow in responding to the steel crisis, and they need to go further still. UK steel can have a bright future, but we need to take action against Chinese dumping, and ensure China is not granted market economy status.

"It's about time the Government stopped kowtowing to China and started standing up for our steel industry."

Steel companies across the world are urging G7 leaders meeting in Japan to act together to prevent Chinese steel being dumped unfairly, distorting markets.

In a statement signed by steel trade groups from the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and by UK Steel in Britain, world leaders warned that the current crisis will continue to put pressure on steel-makers with the potential for more plant closures without action to deal with the problem at source.

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, said: "Chinese government policies have contributed to significant global excess capacity in steel, unfair trade and distortions in steel trade flows around the world. 

"If the G7 leaders fail to address or halt market distortions it will mean subsidised and state-supported enterprises surviving at the expense of efficient companies operating in environments with minimal government support.'

"That's why we are urging leaders at the summit in Japan to discuss the need to maintain effective remedial measures, consistent with their World Trade Organisation rights and obligations, against exports from countries in which market economy conditions do not prevail."

A Business Department spokesman said: "We have gone far further than previous governments in voting for tariffs on steel dumping, and the EU measures have been highly effective in curtailing Chinese imports, in many cases by more than 90%.

"We have absolutely been at the forefront of pressing the EU to take fast and effective action to tackle unfair trading practices, and we continue to do so with other member states."