Port Talbot 2

Union leaders have urged Prime Minister David Cameron to personally lead talks to stop the closure of the Port Talbot steel plant.

It comes on the day of emergency meetings between representatives of the plants affected by Tata Steel's plans to sell its UK business and unions, and the recall of Welsh Assembly Ministers in an attempt to stop the plant from closing, saving thousands of jobs.

The government is urging Tata to keep the Port Talbot plan open for a matter of months, rather than weeks, in order to find a buyer. But commodities firm Liberty House, which initially said it was interested in buying Tata's slab processing business but not its steel plants, says it has held talks over the possible purchase of the Port Talbot plant.

Some of the UK's largest unions say they have written to the Prime Minister, calling for him to take personal charge of efforts to tackle the steel crisis, but have not received a reply. However, Downing Street says it has not received any correspondence from the unions on the matter.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "We want the Prime Minister to step in… last week was an absolute disaster. It's important the Prime Minister now meets with the unions to look at all the options."

Roy Rickhuss, leader of the Community union, added: "By now, no-one underestimates the scale of the challenge we face. We have an entire industry to save and not a lot of time to save it.

"We must also ensure that we hold Tata to a commitment to be a responsible seller and honour its moral and social duties to UK steel communities."

The Welsh Assembly Government was recalled from its Easter break, with First Minister Carwyn Jones saying the steel industry 'cannot be allowed to die'. Opening the debate, Mr Jones said: "I have one simple message for the people of Wales and the UK government. These plants cannot close."

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said it is "vital" to keep the industry going while accepting "international whirlwinds" surrounding it. Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood accused AMs of being slow to react to the crisis, and said there are "serious questions for the Welsh Government to answer".

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the UK government "stands ready and waiting to support any potential investor" financially with a purchase.