Steel crisis raises doubts about business secretary's role
AS TORY Business Secretary Sajid Javid toyed around with more weak words and half-measures yesterday with Britain’s steel industry on the brink of collapse, the Morning Star unearthed a damning Business Department (BIS) staff survey which shows that even Mr Javid’s own civil servants don’t trust him.
Only 40 per cent of BIS workers said they trusted Mr Javid’s decisions.
And less than half (43 per cent) agreed that BIS leaders were “active role models” and the same number felt that it was “safe” to be a whistleblower.
The results were exposed while Mr Javid — who has been called on to resign after being caught rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous on free outings — was in India to talk to the chairman of steel giant Tata in a limp bid to save a total of 40,000 British jobs.
Shadow Civil Service minister Louise Haigh told the Star: “Apparently the Business Secretary doesn’t even have the confidence of his own staff.
“He’s telling them to work through the night while he and his chief adviser have been partying through the night
on big business junkets — it’s not much of a surprise that they’re not inspired by his leadership.”
And Civil Service union PCS said the BIS civil servant survey figures were a “damning indictment” of decisions made by senior managers.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka added: “Staff have clearly lost faith in Sajid Javid, and senior management, to make sensible decisions that are in the interest of staff and the expert services that they deliver.
“It is unsurprising that many experienced, dedicated staff do not support changes that will be highly destructive for their communities and themselves.”
Tata Steel workers are voting on temporary changes to terms and conditions as part of an impending sale of the company to investment firm Greybull Capital.
The so-called “transformation plan” would cut workers’ pay by 3 per cent and reduced pension contributions.
The result of the ballot involving Unite, GMB and Community union members is expected on April 19.
Union leaders stressed to Mr Javid before his departure that the government needs to push for a complete sale of Tata Steel rather than letting firms “cherry-pick” parts.
Negotiations over the sale have been taking place for several months, well before Tata announced last week that it was selling all its assets in Britain.
But during each day that hundreds of Tata workers were being laid off, Mr Javid was found to be hobnobbing with celebrities at film premieres, the Rugby World Cup final match and at Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball.
Also, Mr Javid did not mention the plight of thousands of Tata employees while at a dinner in December that was held in an Indian palace owned by the steel company.
Unite leader Len McCluskey said Mr Javid was taking a “good first step” in visiting chairman Cyrus Mistry again but practical solutions need to be acted on because “talk is cheap.”
Shadow BIS secretary Angela Eagle said that Labour MPs have raised issues facing the steel industry 203 times in Parliament since the general election and secured eight debates.
She added: “The collapse of the steel industry would mean a £4.6 billion cost to government over the next 10 years, 40,000 jobs lost, and devastation for steelmaking communities.”