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Thousands of jobs at risk as Tata ‘presses ahead with plan to close furnaces’

18 Jan 2024 5 minute read
Port Talbot steelworks

Steel giant Tata is to press ahead with plans to close blast furnaces at its Port Talbot plant, threatening more than 3,000 jobs, according to sources.

Unions were meeting the company on Thursday after presenting alternative proposals aimed at saving jobs in the town.

Sources said Tata rejected the plan and were pressing ahead with proposals for a greener form of steelmaking to cut emissions and stem financial losses.

Consult

Unions will consult their members on how to respond to job losses, with industrial action not being ruled out.

Sources said Tata accepted a union plea to keep the hot strip mill open over a transition period, supporting hundreds more jobs.

A Tata Steel spokesman said ahead of the meeting: “We have recently announced a joint agreement between Tata Steel and UK Government for a proposal to invest in state-of-the art Electric Arc Furnace steelmaking in Port Talbot.

“We are committed to meaningful information sharing and consultation with our trade union partners about the plan to develop sustainable steelmaking in the UK and to find solutions for concerns they may have.

“While those discussions are ongoing it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

‘Devastating’

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:“We are in discussion with Tata Steel UK and the recognised trades unions and have approached the UK Government regarding proposals concerning the future of the company’s operations in Wales.

“This is not just an issue for Wales, steel is a sovereign asset and should be treated as such by the UK Government.”

Plaid Cymru members for South Wales West Luke Fletcher and Sioned Williams said: “Tata’s decision to push ahead with potentially 3,000 job losses in Wales is absolutely devastating. Plaid Cymru is standing in solidarity with all the workers at this time and we stand ready to support those who need it.

“Port Talbot is Tata’s largest site in the UK, and workers here will be incredibly worried about this”.

“Decarbonisation should not be at the expense of workers, and currently we’re seeing highly skilled workers, who should be playing a part in that transition, being thrown on the scrapheap.

“Rather than cutting jobs, Tata should focus on retraining and reskilling, so that workers could transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking. The UK Government and Welsh Government must step in to make sure that those who face job losses get support urgently.

“This is going to have a devastating impact on not only the people of Port Talbot and its neighbouring communities but on the local and national economy.”

Local economy

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds added: “I am deeply disappointed to hear that Tata Steel will be closing their remaining blast furnaces in the UK, something which could have a devastating impact on communities across the country, particularly in Port Talbot, where the local economy is reliant on the nearby steel plant.

“The UK Conservative Government, through their inability to support investment into UK steel, has failed towns like Port Talbot across the country.

“If the UK Government was willing to implement a real and sustainable industrial strategy that protected jobs whilst simultaneously supporting the transition to low carbon sectors, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this mess.

“But now we are here, on the verge of witnessing the destruction of Port Talbot.

“The Prime Minister and his cabinet will never know what it’s like for the thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs, they will never know the constant worrying and anxiety that comes with the prospect of losing one’s livelihood.”

Decline

Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks, said: “Tata’s decision to follow the Conservative business model of managed decline for British steelmaking will cause the job losses of 3,000 hard-working men and women, each of whom have dedicated their lives to an industry which underpins Britain’s automotive industry, railways, defence sector, consumer goods, construction, wind turbines and so much more.

“Global demand for steel is actually growing, but by pursuing a narrow electric arc furnace-only model, Tata Steel will be unable to seize the commercial opportunities of the future, while at the same time leaving Britain more dependent on imported steel from countries whose governments won’t always have Britain’s best interests at heart.”

The National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee said in a statement: “The steel unions met today with a senior Tata Steel delegation led by Koushik Chatterjee, and the company responded to the multi-union plan laying out an alternative decarbonisation strategy for Tata Steel UK.

“We will be communicating the outcomes of the meeting to our members in the first instance, as is right and proper, and we will make a further more detailed public statement in due course.”

Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB national officer, said: “Large-scale job losses would be a crushing blow to Port Talbot and UK manufacturing in general.

“It doesn’t have to be this way – unions provided a realistic, costed alternative that would rule out all compulsory redundancies.

“This plan appears to have fallen on deaf ears and now steelworkers and their families will suffer.”

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said she could not comment on “speculation in relation to commercial matters”.

“More broadly, our commitment to the steel sector is clear.

“We committed £500 million of the UK Government support that will transform the site and also protect thousands of jobs.

“We will continue to work closely with the industry and with Tata steel.”


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Annibendod
Annibendod
4 months ago

Does anyone know what the impact on Trostre Works will be? I fear the worst. If it were up to me, I’d nationalise the site and invest in a hydrogen blast furnace like Germans are.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
4 months ago
Reply to  Annibendod

As you probably know it’s not an option for The Conservatives to Nationalise anything and neither Labour for that matter as Llanwern steelworks was closed when Blair was PM.

Annibendod
Annibendod
4 months ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

Well, vote for self-serving power-hungry shysters, get … well, you see how that one ends no doubt.

Nia James
Nia James
4 months ago

A body blow for the workforce and the community but a massive victory for the Green Lobby.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

The loss should be offset by the 16,000 jobs created by the new Brexit freeport, so not all doom and gloom. The freeport will get £26 million gov cash. Meanwhile the German Gov have approved a €2.6 billion for the hydrogen blast furnace in Saarland Germany.
https://www.google.com/url? sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://www.npt.gov.uk/1410%3Fpr_id%3D7222&ved=2ahUKEwify87St-eDAxUuWEEAHfaeDKYQFnoECB8QAQ&usg=AOvVaw2_JgKey0lFRmqLjAsE6Kle

Last edited 4 months ago by Gareth
Emma Catherwood
Emma Catherwood
4 months ago

So the government spends 500m to make 3000 workers unemployed. But we’ll still need steel, which can’t be made here any more, so we’ll buy it from a foreign country, where they still use blast furnaces, ship it over here, adding to the cost and co2 outputs, so at a future climate conference, a government minister can fly themselves and their entourage over, to say that we’ve cut our steel co2 and the rest of the world needs to do more about theirs.

hdavies15
hdavies15
4 months ago

Fair comment but not admissible according to the green gospels’ adherents. Virtue signaling now running at epidemic proportions.

Jeff
Jeff
4 months ago

Tata, 150 billion revenue is cap in hand to the Tory party, this should be a nationalised resource.

In a supposed free port area.

Hint.
Free port will make a few people very rich, is all. Dont look much further than Teeside to see what will happen.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

Sadly when you privatise a country’s steel industry the inevitable will always happen, especially when a community is largely dependent on one industry as seen with those in valleys mining communities left to rot by Tory Whitehall 8n the 1980s. Also it makes me bloody sick seeing that spineless Anglophile WS David TC Davies interviewed shed crocodile tears on TV offering the usual , “we’ll provide support & retraining” to those deliberately dumped on the employment scrapheap seeing the Tories aided Tata with taxpayers money to effectively shed 3000 jobs in Port Talbot, who now will become a dependent ghost… Read more »

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
4 months ago

The Conservative cult of austerity and managed decline keeps on powering ahead. When did they and Labour lose all hope for a future? Hydrogen reduction furnaces could have had a future here.

Keith Parry
Keith Parry
4 months ago

Net Zero for non existent Climate Change.These mad policies are killing Wales economy. Time to stop all this green nonsense. Keep steel making re-open the coal mines.

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