Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140 - 159)



  140. You are saying that nobody in Corus was responsible for giving those views to the financial press?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) No. We were not in a position to do so.

  141. So the financial press were just making up these views?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) The press, not just the financial press, were speculating about plants and indeed they speculated about just about every plant that we have.

  142. It did seem very strange that these views started to come out almost as soon as John Bryant had left. It does seem to imply that you were for particular reasons letting the press know these views.
  (Sir Brian Moffat) The views came out because, coincident with Mr Briant and Mr van Duyne leaving, I made it clear that the work that we were having to do would take place and why it would take place and that we would have the answer, I hoped, around the end of January. The company had to restructure given the major losses that we were incurring.

  143. Would you not think that the staff would think that these briefings might be going on with the financial press before any briefings or consultations took place with your own staff?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) We did not brief the financial press or anybody else. In fact, it was at my insistence that the people who knew first about the results of the work that we had done—and my colleagues all shared this view—should be the workforce and that is what happened. They were told first.

  144. But did you not feel there should be some form of consultation with the workforce to say, "These are the options"?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) They knew the options.

  145. But before you made the decision, before you made the announcement.
  (Sir Brian Moffat) They knew the options. They knew the vulnerable plants. Unfortunately for those in the plants directly affected it confirmed their worst fears. They knew the vulnerable plants, they knew the higher cost plants.

  Chairman: That is not the impression we get, Sir Brian, from talking to the unions. They did not know the vulnerable plants. Most of them were under the impression from the statements that you were making in the press that they were doing a wonderful job and all of a sudden you think they should have some kind of extra-terrestrial psychic powers to understand that they are suddenly vulnerable. I think that is extraordinary.

Mrs Williams

  146. Can you just remind us, Sir Brian, when the announcement actually was made? When did the workforce know that an announcement was imminent? What was the gap between the time you told them and the time it was announced in the press?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) The workforce were made aware of meetings that were going to take place on 1 February. They were made aware on 31 January, round about five o'clock, between four and five, and everybody was told at nine o'clock and before the press were told and coincident with the Stock Exchange being told, which is the law.

  147. On the question of consultation there is a new 90 day consultation process which began on 15 February. Can you tell the Committee why did the consultation began after the restructuring was announced?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) Because it was only then, in the light of the plan, that meaningful consultation could take place. You could not consult about theoretical restructuring.

  148. What was the discussion during the consultation exercise?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) Consultations took place with the unions at national level. There will be another meeting later in March as a result of the unions going away and talking between themselves and talking at plant level and with the management at plant level, and in the light of those discussions, as I have said, any proposals to try and improve on the situation we will look at in a constructive and serious way.

  149. We are to believe you that you will listen to what they say to you following this discussion?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) I hope so.

  150. Because you do not have a good record of keeping your word, do you? You say one thing to Committees and then a few days later make other announcements?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) My record?

  151. Yes.
  (Sir Brian Moffat) I think I have got a pretty good record on that.

  152. I beg to differ.
  (Sir Brian Moffat) Differ then, but the record stands.

Mr Edwards

  153. You may recall that you did come to a private meeting of a group of Welsh Members of Parliament representing steel constituencies on the Monday before the Thursday you made the announcement.
  (Sir Brian Moffat) Correct.

  154. I recall you saying that you had not made any decisions on any plans at that time. Do you recall saying that?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) Correct.

  155. So are you saying all the decisions on all the plants were made on Tuesday and Wednesday?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) I said that we had not at that stage determined the final plan but we knew what the options were and we only came to the final decision on the day before the plan was announced.

  156. It does not seem a very long time to come to that conclusion. Two days? You can understand why people think you have taken a rather short term approach to this.
  (Sir Brian Moffat) It was three days.

  157. Three days to determine to get rid of 6,000 people? Can you understand why people are appalled by the sequence of events that we are talking about?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) It has not taken three days.

  158. On the Monday you said to us that you had made no decisions on any plants and you have confirmed that you said that. So all the decisions on all the plants were made on Tuesday and Wednesday and the announcement was on Thursday?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) That is right.

Mrs Williams

  159. Can you explain?
  (Sir Brian Moffat) What?

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