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First Minister flies to Mumbai for Tata talks

10 May 2024 5 minute read
Port Talbot Steelworks. Photo by Nick Russill on Unsplash

First Minister, Vaughan Gething, has travelled to Mumbai today to meet the leaders of Tata Steel and make the case for avoiding swingeing job cuts across the company’s Welsh sites, in particular in Port Talbot.

Last month Tata announced it would proceed with its plans to close its two blast furnaces at Port Talbot, to be replaced in the coming years with an electric arc furnace.

Tata’s plans to close the blast furnace are estimated to impact around 2,500 workers directly, as well as around 10,000 people across the region, within the supply chain and reliant businesses.

Gradual transition

The Welsh Government has called for a fairer, more gradual transition to greener steel production, which does not result in imminent redundancies and continues to provide the good quality British steel needed to support many of the UK’s flagship green aspirations.

Mr Gething said: “Quality steel, made in Wales, is vital for the economy and security of the UK.

“We have consistently argued that there is a better deal for the industry and Tata workers that could and should be struck – securing a longer, fairer transition towards greener steel production.

“Our steel sector could and should have a strong future and stopping primary steel production now will only result in Welsh jobs and emissions being transported overseas.

“From wind turbines to cleaner cars, we know we will be using more steel, especially green steel, in the UK in the future, with significant opportunities for Port Talbot if Tata can get this transition right.

“While the window for securing this just transition may be narrow, as First Minister I promise to fight tooth and nail to protect these jobs. I will make the case firmly for keeping Welsh Tata jobs, which are vital to not only the region but the future of manufacturing in the UK.”

Industrial action

Mr Gething’s trip to India comes after members of a steelworkers’ union voted to take industrial action in protest at the planned job losses, on Thursday. Community said its members backed industrial action by 85%.

Community national officer Alun Davies said: “Today our members delivered their verdict on Tata Steel’s job cuts plan, and they have voted to demand a better deal for the workforce.

“Community balloted more than 3,000 members across all Tata Steel UK production sites, and more than 85% have voted for industrial action.

“It should be noted this resounding mandate has been delivered in spite of the company’s bullying and unacceptable threats to slash redundancy payments.

“We will now be consulting our members on next steps, and we urge Tata to reconsider their position and get back around the table to head off a major industrial dispute.”

Members of the Unite Union have also voted to strike, while the GMB is yet to announce the result of its ballot.


A Tata Steel spokesperson said: “Following the announcement in January of the company’s plans to invest £1.25 billion and to restructure the UK business, we started a formal information-sharing and consultation process with our trades union colleagues, which continues in an open, collaborative and constructive fashion.

“On 22 March, we put forward a significantly enhanced, comprehensive package of support for employees impacted by the proposed transformation, which we have further added to this week – a commitment of £200 million.

“We are naturally disappointed that while consultation continues, some Community members across Tata Steel UK have indicated that they would be prepared to take industrial action up to and including strike action if an agreement cannot be reached on a way forward for the business and its employees.

“While the £1.25 billion commitment with the UK Government will ensure a long-term viable future for low-CO2 steelmaking in the UK, our current business is unsustainable, reporting losses of more than £1 million a day.

“This investment is critical as much of our existing iron and steelmaking operation in Port Talbot is at the end of its life, is unreliable and inefficient, and it was for this reason that we had to cease our coke-making operations on March 20.

“By restructuring our UK operations we will be able to sustain the business as we transition to new electric arc furnace technology.”

Plaid Cymru has tabled a motion for debate in the Senedd calling on the UK Government to bring TATA into public ownership and for the Welsh Government to act in the absence of any plan from Westminster.

Spokesperson for Economy, Luke Fletcher MS said: “I truly hope the First Minister’s visit yields a positive result for workers in TATA steel. However, TATAs attitude towards workers has been nothing short of appalling. A responsible company doesn’t act like this.

“Plaid Cymru have long called for nationalisation to be seriously considered by the UK Government, and to be pushed for by the Welsh Government. Now is the time to act. We cannot be bystanders in our own nation’s future.”

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7 days ago

Is he sponsored by Sustrans for this trip?

7 days ago
Reply to  A.Redman

He is looking for any criminal to sponsor him!

7 days ago
Reply to  David

No, but it’s rumored that Modi might turn up with a sack full of rupees ! All good for trade, boyo.

7 days ago

Cap in hand I expect.
Steel should be a national interest and asset. Cheers Maggie.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
7 days ago

Hold your nose around Modi’s India but hey the old colonialism still runs deep, just ask the Baroness…Democracy at work!…don’t pick up anymore bad habits First Minister…

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
7 days ago

Good stunt – hoping no doubt to take some of the pressure off him arising from his questionable activities.
With any luck he won’t come back.

7 days ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Gone to India to get some training to improve his skills in soliciting gifts.

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