Glasgow & West Scotland

Key staff at Tata steel plants to be retained

Tata Steel plant in Motherwell Image copyright PA
Image caption In October, Tata Steel announced plans to mothball its sites in Motherwell and Cambuslang

Scottish ministers have moved to keep key staff on standby at two closure-threatened steel plants in Lanarkshire.

A £195,000 support package will see a number of workers at the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants receive about 60% of gross salary.

They will also receive training to ensure the plants can reopen quickly, should production resume.

However, Scottish Labour called it an "inadequate response" and said a more substantial package was needed.

In October, Tata Steel announced both plants would be mothballed with the loss of 270 jobs.

The firm blamed the cuts on a flood of cheap imports from China, a strong pound and high electricity costs.

A possible buyer emerged recently for the plants, but it remains unclear if any deal will be enough to save them.

Tata Steel has been in exclusive talks to sell its Long Products business to venture capital firm, Greybull Capital.

The business includes the Dalzell plant in Motherwell and Clydebridge plant in Cambuslang.

Unions have said Greybull's business plan does not include the Scots plants.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tata's Scottish plants are being mothballed by the company

Scotland's Business Minister Fergus Ewing said the government's move was a "positive development in the quest to secure a future for Scottish steel".

He added: "It is critical for any new commercial operator intending on restarting production at Dalzell and Clydebridge to be able to get the mothballed plants quickly up and running again after a period of inactivity.

"So we have agreed to work with the existing management and trade unions to retain and develop the nucleus of a manufacturing team.

"That will be attractive to prospective buyers who seek the knowledge and insight to maximise the productive capability of the sites."

But Labour MSP James Kelly, who is a member of the steel task force set up to discuss the planned mothballing of the plants, said: "The £195,000 will provide limited support to retain the skills of key staff and support infrastructure at the plants.

"The SNP government have previously made optimistic noises about finding a buyer. A more substantial support package is needed to attract a potential buyer.

"It is also not good enough to say that a meeting will take place with Greybull in the next few weeks. That meeting needs to take place next week."

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