Indian steel giant Tata is planning a sale of its U.K. operations, which could put about 15,000 jobs in jeopardy.
Reports indicated that Tata's board rejected a proposal to turn around the fortunes of its largest U.K. plant in Port Talbot, Wales, and instructed its European holding company to explore a restructuring in the country — including a partial or complete sale.
The decision came after Tata slashed more than 2,000 U.K. steel jobs in two rounds of layoffs in October and January.
Company officials said that the factors that led to those job cuts — including excess steel production and an influx of cheap imports, particularly from China — "are likely to continue into the future and have significantly impacted the long-term competitive position."
Although union officials lamented the announcement, some were encouraged that Tata did not announce plant closures.
Union leaders urged the company and elected officials to collaborate on a sale, but analysts said that finding a buyer for the money-losing plant in a challenging steel market could be difficult.
The U.K. and Welsh governments issued a statement vowing to "look at all viable options to keep a strong British steel industry at the heart of our manufacturing base," while opposition leaders called for lawmakers to come back into session to rescue the steel sector.
“Steelworkers and their families will be desperately worried about the uncertainty," said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. "The government is in disarray over what action to take."