THE future of hundreds of jobs in Deeside is in doubt after it became clear Tata Steel is considering the sale of its entire UK asset base.
The India-based company is believed to be interested in selling all of its UK locations, including the steel plant at Shotton.
The development casts doubt over the Flintshire site’s 800 jobs as well as thousands of others across Wales.
Union leaders and MPs had travelled to Mumbai where the Tata board met yesterday to discuss the company’s loss-making UK business.
The UK delegation had been hoping Tata would agree to a turnaround plan to keep steel-making in Port Talbot, South Wales and other UK plants.
Keith Jordan, of Connah’s Quay, worked at the Shotton plant for almost 40 years, leaving in February.
The Community Union national council member said he was “sick to the pit of his stomach” at the announcement.
He said: “My children still work there and I’ve got a lot of friends there too.
“I had a text from my son that just said one word – ‘devastated’.
“Minds are going to start to racing over this and people are obviously going to panic.
“The one thing Shotton has going for it is that it is a plant that is still making money.”
Mr Jordan said he received emails late last night from union colleagues saying details were still being worked out as to how the announcement would affect Shotton.
“A lot of people thought the worst thing that could happen was steel production stopping at Port Talbot, not full sale across the UK,” Mr Jordan said.
“We had heard rumours that the board members in Mumbai were going to wash their hands of the UK side and I’m not sure we realised just how true that would be.”
Alyn and Deeside Assembly Member Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Natural Resources, said last night: “It’s obviously early days yet but I’ve been in touch with the team in Cardiff already to seek assurances that we will support the industry.
“Its heart lies in Wales and the UK Government now needs to come to the table to ensure that jobs in Wales and across the UK are secured for the future.
“I will ensure Shotton’s voice is heard in response to Tata’s proposal.”
Plaid Cymru and Welsh Conservative leaders Leanne Wood and Andrew R T Davies both called for the Senedd to be recalled.
In a statement on Twitter, union Unite Wales said the announcement was “extremely worrying news for our members and the British steel industry”.
Up to 50 positions were lost in Shotton last year when one of two galvanising lines was shut down.
In a statement at that time, Tata said the reorganisation came in response to “a shift in market conditions” caused by “a flood of cheap imports, particularly from China”.
Dave Hulse, national officer of the GMB union, said: “This is absolutely devastating news for all our members, their families and the local communities. Tata has let the whole of the UK steel industry down.
“Our members have done everything that has been asked of them and, just when it was needed, Tata lost their nerve.”