Wales

Steel industry: No guarantee on jobs, says Tata director

A Unite union banner on the fence outside the Tata steel plant in Port Talbot Image copyright PA

There is no guarantee that the steel industry will avoid further job losses, a senior Tata executive has told MPs.

The Welsh Affairs Committee was taking evidence after the firm announced 750 jobs were going in Port Talbot.

Stuart Wilkie, director of Tata Strip Products UK, said EU action was needed to tackle cheap imports, and relief needed on high energy costs.

Business Minister Anna Soubry told MPs compensation had been promised but she did not know why it was taking so long.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Mr Wilkie said steel import prices into the UK were at an "unsustainable" level.

He said in early 2015 a strong pound had already made exports "quite difficult" before cheap Chinese and Russian imports then pushed prices down.

Cardiff North Conservative MP Craig Williams asked if there could be further job losses at Tata and other companies.

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Media captionStuart Wilkie says some EU action over Chinese and Russian imports is needed

Mr Wilkie said that he could not give guarantees.

He said it was important to see some EU action over Chinese and Russian imports along with relief on energy costs.

Tim Morris, head of public affairs for Tata Steel Europe, said the problem was global, with job losses in the United States and other parts of Europe.

Government action was not a "silver bullet", but it did have "an important part to play", he said.

Mr Morris added that Tata had effectively been waiting for two years for state aid, which they anticipated would come in March.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said she did not know why the compensation was taking so long.

"If people have got problems with the compensation not being paid I would expect them to come and speak to me directly, and I'll do everything I can to speed it up, no debate about that," she said.

Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies asked why government subsidies were being given to companies that were not willing to support British products.

Ms Soubry said: "You can't force them to buy British - we are a free market economy."

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