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Unions’ anger at Tata Steel decision to close furnaces at Port Talbot plant

19 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Unions have reacted with anger after Tata Steel confirmed plans to close blast furnaces at its plant in Port Talbot, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Tata said its plans are subject to consultation but could be expected to result in up to 2,800 potential job losses across the business out of which, around 2,500 roles could be impacted during the next 18 months.

A further 300 roles could be impacted in the next few years, which could include the potential consolidation and rationalisation of cold rolling assets in Llanwern once the required investments are completed at Port Talbot.

Union officials raised the threat of industrial action after the company rejected their proposals aimed at avoiding such heavy job losses.

Tata said in a statement: “Tata Steel today announced it will commence statutory consultation as part of its plan to transform and restructure its UK business.

“This plan is intended to reverse more than a decade of losses and transition from the legacy blast furnaces to a more sustainable, green steel business.

“The transformation would secure most of Tata Steel UK’s existing product capability and maintain the country’s self-sufficiency in steelmaking, while also reducing Tata Steel UK’s CO2 emissions by 5 million tonnes per year and overall UK country emissions by about 1.5%.”

Tata said its proposed investment is supported by the UK Government, which has committed up to £500 million to enable the transformation.

Tata Steel plans to invest £750 million in the project, alongside funding for a “comprehensive support package” for affected employees, business restructuring and transition costs as part of its long-term commitment to UK production.


A statement by the GMB and Community said: “More than 3,000 jobs and the future of British steelmaking is at stake. It is an absolute disgrace that Tata Steel, and the UK Government, appear intent on pursuing the cheapest instead of the best plan for our industry, our steelworkers and our country.

“It’s unbelievable any Government would give a company £500 million to throw 3,000 workers on the scrapheap, and our Government must re-evaluate its miserly offer to support investment at Tata Steel.

“Community and GMB do not accept Tata Steel’s rejection of the Multi-Union Plan and confirmation they intend to press forward with their original devastating proposals. We will now consult our members on next steps and all options to protect jobs are on the table, including industrial action.”

Community General Secretary Roy Rickhuss added: “Tata’s announcement today is unacceptable. The decision to plough ahead with the bad deal for steel first announced in September would be devastating for Port Talbot and the wider steel industry, with Britain’s primary steelmaking capacity decimated and carbon emissions offshored to heavy polluting countries.

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