Union bosses call for 'Plan B' after government rejects £170m bailout for Liberty Steel

Union bosses have called on government to come up with a ‘Plan B’ after rejecting a request for £170m to prop up Liberty Steel.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 12:40 pm

They say all options, including nationalising the loss-making business, must be considered.

The GMB spoke out after ministers reportedly rejected an appeal by Liberty Steel for £170 million in financial support.

It is understood there are concerns about the structure of the company and whether any bailout would have remained in the UK.

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Liberty steelworks in Rotherham.

Liberty employs 1,600 in Rotherham and Stocksbridge and a total of 5,000 at 12 sites in the UK.

Ross Murdoch, GMB national officer, said: “Now that the Government has stated it will not provide the bailout sought by Sanjeev Gupta, we will seek an urgent meeting with Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for business to discuss ‘Plan B’.

“This must include all options, including taking the UK business into public ownership.”

Concerns over Liberty were raised after financial backer, Greensill Capital, went bust.

The company told the Government last week that support was needed to pay operating expenses and deal with recent losses.

In the UK, weakness in the aerospace market has cut demand for some products by 60 per cent.

A Government spokesman said: "The Government is closely monitoring developments around Liberty Steel and continues to engage closely with the company, the broader UK steel industry and trade unions.

"The Government has supported the steel sector extensively, including providing over £500 million in recent years to help with the costs of energy.

"Our unprecedented package of Covid support is still available to the sector to protect jobs and ensure that producers have the right support during this challenging time."

A spokesman for Liberty’s parent company GFG Alliance said: "While Greensill's difficulties have created a challenging situation, we have adequate funding for our current needs.

"Discussions to secure alternative long-term funding continue to make good progress and while this takes place we have asked all of our businesses to manage cash carefully.

“We will continue to work closely with the unions and our employees to identify the most effective ways of supporting the business and preserving jobs.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.