THE future of almost 300 jobs in York remains uncertain as Tata Steel continues talks over the sale of its Long Products division alongside a crucial board meeting yesterday.
The international steel giant was holding a meeting in India yesterday to decide the fate of a number of UK plants, with board members meeting in Mumbai to vote on turnaround proposals, predominantly focussing on the Port Talbot plant in South Wales, where 750 jobs are at risk.
As news of the meeting's outcome was awaited, staff in York continue to wait for news of their future with the firm.
In December Tata announced it had signed a Letter of Intent for the sale of its Long Products division.
The exclusive negotiations between Tata and London-based investment firm Greybull Capital include the sale of York-based design consultancy Tata Projects, which employs 270 people at offices in The Crescent, off Blossom Street.
A spokesperson for Tata Steel confirmed yesterday's board meeting agenda did not include discussions around the Long Products Division, and that negotiations surrounding the potential sale were ongoing in the background. Confirming there was no deadline for sale to be completed by, they said: "These things take as long as they take."
Alongside the York business, the potential Long Products Division sale covers several UK-based assets including Tata Steel UK’s Scunthorpe steelworks, mills in Teesside and northern France, an engineering workshop in Workington, and associated distribution facilities.
Tata Steel’s Scottish mills in Dalzell and Clydebridge, which were being mothballed, were also originally part of the deal, however last week the firm announced it had agreed a deal with international metals firm Liberty House to buy the two plants in Lanarkshire.
The agreement involves the Scottish Government buying the Clydebridge and Dalzell plants from Tata Steel, and immediately selling them on to Liberty.
Speaking in December Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: "This is an extremely critical time for the whole industry, and we have been working hard to explore all options that could provide a future for the Long Products Europe business.
""We will now move into detailed negotiations with Greybull Capital. It is too early to give any certainty about the potential outcome of these discussions.
"We will continue to work closely with our trade unions and works councils and will communicate any relevant news to employees on an ongoing basis.
"In the meantime, Tata Steel and our Long Products Europe business will continue to work closely with customers.
"Accelerating innovation on advanced steel solutions, helping our customers succeed in their markets and creating a sustainable asset base remain our strategic focus."