Thousands of jobs at risk as India's Tata Steel seeks British exit

Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:49pm EDT
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By Andy Bruce and Kate Holton

PORT TALBOT, Wales/LONDON (Reuters) - Britain battled to save its steel industry on Wednesday after India's Tata Steel (TISC.NS: Quote) put its British operations up for sale, leaving thousands of jobs at risk as a result of cheap Chinese imports.

The move comes less than three months before Britons vote on the country's membership of the European Union in a referendum dominated by concerns about the economy.

The government said it was working to broker a deal with potential buyers after Tata Steel sought to end its almost decade-long venture in Britain, which employs 15,000 people but has been hit by high costs and Chinese competition.

"This is my fourth time that I've been placed under the threat of redundancy," 51-year-old steelworker and union representative Mark Turner said outside Tata's plant in Port Talbot in Wales, Britain's biggest steel works.

"If this shuts, there is nowhere else to go."

The move could have an impact on Britain's closely fought June 23 vote over whether to stay in the EU.

Britain's eurosceptic media have blamed Brussels for preventing London from taking greater steps to protect the industry and one of the campaign groups hoping to lead Britain out of the EU said it was "killing our steel".

But supporters of EU membership said the bloc was not responsible for the industry's plight and that the EU was a big buyer of British steel.   Continued...

A general view shows the town of Port Talbot in Wales, Britain March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden