Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2001
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
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
(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
doneand my colleagues all shared this viewshould
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
(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.
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
(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?
(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.
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
(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
(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
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.
159. Can you explain?
(Sir Brian Moffat) What?