Tonight’s news coverage is dominated by the announcement that Tata is looking to sell its UK steel making operations. Am I the only one who isn’t surprised by this?
Ever since I moved to North Lincolnshire, nearly two decades ago, I’ve been hearing bad things about the future of Scunthorpe’s steelworks. How its future was under threat from cheap foreign imports. How the town of Scunthorpe was dependent on steel jobs. How the local area would die if the steelworks closed. Not to mention the huge hole in the pension scheme that would need a billion pound plaster to heal.
None of this sounded good then or now. Yet Tata think they can sell this business off to somebody else. Are they mad or just suffering from a case of wishful thinking?
Or is Tata just looking to offload a massive liability?
Now I know there are plenty of people out there who think of these steel works, Scunthorpe just being one of them, as an integral part of their community. I would remind those people that a steel works is just another business and businesses are expected to make money. Businesses also have a habit of dying.
So would you be interested in a steelworks or two? They lose money. Come with some huge ongoing liabilities. Are desperately fighting to survive in a global market awash with cheap competition AND highly unlikely to turn a profit anytime in the near future.
Not interested in this exciting business opportunity? Do you lack the imagination needed to turn around an ailing UK industry that just cannot compete on the world stage? That’s okay, I’m sure that there is someone out there (probably suffering from a delusional condition) who’ll snap this bargain up like a piranha chasing a fishfinger.