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Steelworkers’ union to ballot members for industrial action over Port Talbot job losses

02 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Photo Leighton Collins / Shutterstock.com

The steelworkers’ union Community has confirmed plans 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.

Last month senior officials of the union passed a resolution to ballot for industrial action, giving the union the formal mandate to ballot its members on strike action.

Consultation

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.

Community represents more steelworkers than any other union, including the vast majority of workers impacted by Tata’s decarbonisation plans.

Serve notice

Alun Davies, National Officer for Steel at Community, the steelworkers’ union, said: “This week Community representatives from all Tata Steel UK plants unanimously agreed to serve notice on the company should Tata confirm their intention to close Blast Furnace Number 4.

“This would be a national dispute and Community will ballot all members on a site-by-site basis including the downstream plants.

“At this point we remain in national consultations and the company has not responded to our revised version of the Multi-Union Plan, which our experts continue to develop.

“Therefore at this time Community is not confirming an industrial action ballot timetable, and this would be premature as we have not yet exhausted the procedures.”

Unite

The Unite trade union has also announced that it will begin balloting its members at Tata for industrial action.

Voting will start on March 8 and close on 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.

“Only determined action can break the spiral of decline that has gripped our steel industry. Demand for low carbon steel is growing and the UK must be at the forefront of the green steel revolution. This is an opportunity to grow jobs not cut them.

“Steel is a foundation industry that underpins a quarter of the UK’s GDP. Becoming reliant on imports in an increasingly unstable world will have disastrous results.”

Inefficient

Defending the company’s plans, a Tata Steel spokesperson said: “Much of our existing iron and steelmaking operation in Port Talbot is at the end of its life, is unreliable and inefficient, and contributing to losses of £1.7million a day in the last quarter alone.

“Our restructuring proposals would mean that we are able to sustain the business as we transition to new electric arc furnace technology.

“We believe we have a very exciting future ahead, providing the high quality, low-CO2 steels that our customers in the UK and overseas are so desperate for.

“Furthermore, producing steel from scrap that already exists in significant quantities in the UK rather than importing iron ore and coal from across the world, will be the foundation for more resilient UK manufacturing supply chains.”


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Rob jones
Rob jones
1 month ago

Contact the labour health minister who is out in India while an Indian company Tata Steel is cutting jobs and cutting investment

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Cymru and the Indian Summer…how about a closer look Mr Shipton ?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

There is more to India than just steel, you can steal health professionals, eh! Welsh Gov!

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

And no doubt the tories will call the striking union members ‘the enemy within’ whilst backing the protesting farmers to the hilt. There is no limit to the hypocrisy of the tories.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Uk Gov during covid.
Health workers are our best investment ever and we must look after them.
Worst of covid over (it is still here though killing people) throw health workers to the wolves.

Guess what the UK gov will do here. Though the wild card is they know there are a lot of votes here, any help wont be for the workers. Tories have form.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Well, no surprise. Although the main article is about the coal mine, it involves gov policy on steel making in the UK.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/mar/02/government-documents-said-to-blow-gaping-hole-in-its-case-for-cumbrian-coalmine

Lord Custard
Lord Custard
1 month ago

We should at the very least keep some steel production and coal mines available in case of war. It’s easy to shut these industries down, but there is absolutely no chance of getting them back quickly in any prolonged conflict.

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