Unite urged the government to provide trade unions and thousands of steelworkers with more information after Sajid Javid revealed the formal sale process of Tata Steel's UK operations would begin on 11 April. The business secretary made the announcement following a meeting with bosses of the Indian conglomerate in Mumbai.
"We understand it was a positive meeting and we are obviously waiting on further details of what the secretary of state has secured in his discussions with Tata," Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite, told IBTimes UK.
"Before Javid went to Mumbai, the unions [Unite, GMB and Community] pressed him to make it clear to Tata that we are about getting time to secure a proper agreement. This can't be a fire sale, it's nothing that can be done in five or 10 days – there's got to be some time to be able to put together a package for potential purchases."
He added: "He's got to come back and he's got to tell us and our members exactly the detail of what's been secured with Tata. It's obviously very worrying for our members across the Tata business – they are staring down the barrel of a gun at the moment."
The business secretary confirmed on the night of 6 April that Tata would provide "sufficient time" for the process to be completed. "We're listening, we've worked on this for a while and we want to work with any potential buyer to see how we can help," Javid stressed.
"The government will do everything it can to find a viable, long-term solution for Port Talbot and British steel."
Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of Community, was able to speak to the business secretary over the phone after the Mumbai meeting. "I welcome the fact that the secretary of state informed me of the constructive conversation he had with Tata. I am pleased that he raised those issues I had raised with him before he flew to India," the union chief said.
Javid revealed interested parties in the loss-making business have already come forward. But questions still surround the future of the £15 billion ($21bn) British Steel Pension Scheme and if Tata's UK operations will be broken up as part of the sell-off.
The business secretary plans to have his first full tour of Tata's Port Talbot plant in south Wales when he visits the site on the afternoon of 7 April. A Department for Business spokeswoman clarified to IBTimes UK that Javid will talk to union representatives during the trip.
The top Conservative was criticised for travelling to Australia with his daughter, while Tata chiefs met in Mumbai and announced the company's plans to sell-off its entire UK business. "He took his eye off the ball completely," Burke said. "However, that is behind us and we have to get on and think about where we are."