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Tata Steel job losses ‘tip of the iceberg’, union official warns

31 Jan 2024 2 minute read
Port Talbot steelworks. Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The loss of 2,800 jobs through the planned closure of blast furnaces at Port Talbot is just the “tip of the iceberg”, a union official has warned.

Politicians, unions and executives from steel giant Tata are being questioned by MPs on Wednesday following the company’s decision to close its blast furnaces at Port Talbot in South Wales.

Officials from Community, the GMB and Unite told the Welsh Affairs Committee that the job losses will be devastating for the local and national economy.

Charlotte Brumpton-Childs from the GMB said the scale of job losses cannot be over-estimated.

“The 2,800 job losses proposed are just the tip of the iceberg because of the knock-on effect on people who work in the logistic supply chain, nearby cafes where workers buy their bacon butties, and even dance schools attended by steelworkers’ children,” she said.

“We have one member who signed a mortgage agreement two weeks before this announcement was made, and a senior union rep in his late 20s who wants a job for the next 50 or 60 years.

“This is not a dying industry – it is vibrant and could be providing jobs for the next 100 years.”

Price

Alasdair McDiarmid, assistant general secretary of Community, said that under a union plan, 600 jobs would be affected but other work could be created and any redundancies would be voluntary.

He said Tata’s plan is based on price rather than what is best for the industry and workers.

No other steelmaker in Europe is following Tata’s proposals, making the UK an “outlier” as the only company giving up blast furnaces, he said.

Nick Kardahji of Unite, which has put forward its own plan for Port Talbot, said he believes Tata could be more ambitious without the need for any job losses.

Steelworkers travelled from Port Talbot on Wednesday and staged protests outside Parliament as well as attending the committee hearing.

Tata plans to switch to a more environmentally friendly production of steel, which requires fewer workers.

The company says it is losing more than £1 million a day, adding the switch to greener production will save thousands of jobs.


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