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Steelworkers union agrees details for Tata Steel strike ballot

26 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Port Talbot Steelworks. Photo Lewis Clarke is marked CC-by-SA/2.0

The steelworker’s union Community has agreed details for a ballot on industrial action following a meeting of union reps in Port Talbot.

Last month senior officials of the union passed a resolution to ballot for industrial action at Tata Steel UK in response to the threat of job losses at Port Talbot and other sites owned by the company.

In February, Tata Steel started a formal 45-day consultation on restructuring plans which are set to lead to thousands of job losses in Wales.

The company is planning to shut down blast furnaces at its plant in Port Talbot, the largest steelworks in the UK, and switch to a more environmentally friendly way of producing steel.

The move is expected to lead to the loss of around 2,800 jobs.

Coke ovens

Last week the company confirmed it was commencing shutting down operations at its Port Talbot-based coke ovens, impacting about 200 staff.

Tata confirmed in January that it will close its blast furnaces at Port Talbot as part of its decarbonisation plans.

Community represents more steelworkers than any other union, including the vast majority of workers impacted by those plans.

‘Save our steel industry’

Alun Davies, National Officer for Steel at Community Union, said: “We’ve been clear from the beginning that all cards were on the table to protect our members jobs and save our steel industry.

“It has become evident over the recent days that Tata are not serious about engaging with our Multi-Union plan for steel. Which they themselves have admitted is viable and could be the road towards a profitable future for their UK steel sites.

“Therefore, we’ve been given little choice other than to put this issue to our members and ask them if they want to take the next step towards industrial action.

“Now let me be crystal clear on this. Community and our members haven’t chosen this fight. We’ve put forward a credible and workable alternative to Tata, but it’s through their lack of action, and their unwillingness to steer away from their damaging plan that we’ve come to this point.

“We will fight for our members, their jobs, and their communities.”

The Unite trade union has also started balloting its members at Tata for industrial action.

Voting started on 8 March and will close on 9 April 9. Industrial action could begin before the end of April.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tata has failed to halt its disastrous and destructive plans for Port Talbot, the Welsh economy and the UK as a whole. Even though Unite has secured significant investment for the sites from Labour.

“Tata’s actions is one of industrial vandalism and will be fought.”


Rajesh Nair, Tata Steel UK’s chief executive, said last week: “We have been clear in our current restructuring proposals that many of our heavy-end assets in Port Talbot are at their end-of-life capability.

“As part of our efforts to stem our current losses, and given the condition of the assets, we propose to close the heavy end iron and steelmaking assets at Port Talbot within this calendar year in a phased manner.”

Tata said it is investing £1.25 billion into electric arc furnace technology at Port Talbot, which will secure steelmaking in the region for the long term and help transition to a lower-carbon process.

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