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Union warns of escalated action over Port Talbot job losses

02 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Tata Steel’s Port Talbot steelworks. Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A union has warned it is preparing to escalate industrial action over planned job losses at steel giant Tata.

Members of Unite are already going to ban overtime and begin a work-to-rule later this month in protest at the closure of blast furnaces at Port Talbot.

The company is moving to a greener form of production, using an electric arc furnace, which needs fewer workers.

Redundancy pay

Unite said Tata is threatening to cut redundancy pay in response to the announcement of industrial action.

The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Unite and its members will not tolerate Tata’s bully-boy tactics and neither should Labour. The union is now preparing to escalate industrial action in direct response to the company’s threats.

“The company is trying to hold the country to ransom, while needlessly throwing thousands of workers on the scrapheap. If Tata is not prepared to do the right thing, then an incoming Labour government must ensure it does.”

Support package

A Tata Steel spokesman said: “Following the publication of our most generous employee support package to date and having shared assurances for the future of the UK business with our trade union partners, we had hoped they would put the revised offer to their members.

“It is therefore disappointing that Unite have decided on industrial action – we are now considering our legal options regarding the legality of their ballot.

“The enhanced package will remain in place unless industrial action is taken, in which case it would revert to our standard terms.

“In light of the ongoing impact on the business, the potential for further disruption, and in order to ensure safe and stable operations, we are now considering bringing forward the dates for the closure of blast furnace 5 and the winding down of operations across the wider heavy-end.

“We are asking Unite to withdraw their call for industrial action and put the revised offer to their membership.”

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