Unions seek Liberty government support after Gupta meeting

UK trade unions say government must “take an active role” to safeguard jobs under threat at Liberty Steel from the collapse of major lender Greensill Capital. Following a meeting with Sanjeev Gupta on Tuesday, unions say it is clear the Liberty magnate is seeking funding to secure business continuity.

“It is clear Mr Gupta intends to secure a refinancing of the debt to provide the business with the necessary liquidity going forward,” the National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee says in a note sent to Kallanish. “We recognise Mr Gupta’s desire to see Liberty Steel succeed, and recognise also his personal contribution in giving distressed UK steel assets a new lease of life.”

Liberty is a strategic UK business that supplies sectors including defence and energy, as well as a low-carbon steelmaker, “and the assets must be central to any strategy to decarbonise our steel industry”, the unions continue.

Unions say they are encouraged by the government initiative to convene the Steel Council meeting last week. In it, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said government has provided over £500 million ($693.4m) in relief to help make electricity costs more competitive. It has also established a £250m Clean Steel Fund to support the decarbonisation of the steel sector.

To build back better and greener the UK needs a sustainable steel industry, unions say. “A future must be found to prevent us having to rely on high-carbon imports from countries that don’t play by the same rules,” they comment.

Greensill filed for insolvency earlier this week, citing GFG Alliance being unable to pay its debt. Liberty Steel’s parent company said on Friday: “We are making progress in our discussions with financial institutions that can help diversify our funding.”

Adam Smith Germany