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Is UK steel on brink of collapse?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 01:32

India's Tata Steel is seeking to sell its entire British business, putting thousands of jobs at risk and underlining the precarious position of the country's once dominant steel industry. Ivor Bennett reports.

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Its 1960s heyday is now a distant memory. But Port Talbot is still a town built on steel. Britain's largest plant still employs 4000 people - who are now all fearing their jobs. SOUNDBITE (English) ENGINEER AT PORT TALBOT AND UNION MEMBER, KATE JAUNCEY, SAYING: "This was almost regarded as a kind of life boat in South Wales. It was the place that seemed invincible, maybe that's the wrong word but it seemed like a safe haven, you couldn't imagine anybody would lose the capacity to make steel." But that's exactly what's happening. The plant's owners, India's Tata Steel, has put it up for sale. Along with the rest of its UK operations. That's 15,000 jobs, on the line because of one key question. SOUNDBITE (English) GERREN O'NEILL, SENIOR TRADER, THAMES CAPITAL MARKETS, SAYING: "Just purely from a competitive perspective, is the UK able to compete with China? And the answer to that question I believe is no." The furious pace of China's blast furnaces have meant producers the world over are feeling the heat. Excess supply is around 250 million tonnes. At Port Talbot alone, Tata is thought to be losing one million pounds a day. There have been calls for the EU to step in. Germany the latest to voice them. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CCLA, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "To get the European Union to agree to a tariff barrier against cheap Chinese imports would however require very considerable cooperation at the policy level and may play into the hands of those wanting a Brexit." The UK government is keen to remain in the EU, and has said it is looking at all options regarding the future of these plants. That may include state support. Because they know finding a buyer could be tough.

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Is UK steel on brink of collapse?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 01:32