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  1. ITV Report

Tata Steel results 'will concern UK staff', unions say

India's Tata Steel latest results will 'concern' staff at UK sites, including Port Talbot in South Wales, unions say.

The company's figures reveal losses of £840 million after wiping £1 billion off the value of its European arm.

Tata employs 18,500 people in the UK, accounting for more than half its European workforce.

The overall post-tax figure for the group represents a sharp fall from the previous year's £642 million profit, and is largely accounted for by the write-down.

The firm announced its latest wave of redundancies in November, including 600 in South Wales, as part of a drive to cut costs.

Tata said 'severely depressed conditions' in Europe and the UK had left steel demand almost 30% lower than 2008 pre-recession levels, though underlying performance in the region had improved with increased volumes in the last quarter.

The company did not give a pre-tax profit figure for its European arm. The overall group figure, excluding the impairment, was £387.7 million in the black, down from £621.6 million.

Tata said deliveries were down in its European operations over the year, largely due to repairs and outages.

Europe’s economic deterioration last year reversed the modest recovery in European steel demand that had been going on since 2009 and our deliveries fell as a consequence.

– Dr Karl-Ulrich Köhler, Tata Steel Europe MD & CEO

But the company said the re-lighting of a blast furnace at Port Talbot after a £220 million re-build has helped performance in the fourth quarter.

Tata said that it was continuing a programme of restructuring, cost-cutting and efficiency while also taking on 500 apprentices in the UK over the past couple of years.

Dr Köhler said the company had 'acted decisively' in response to the downturn, and that they had not detracted from their long-term objective of 'building an all-weather business'.

But he conceded 'another tough year of subdued steel demand in Europe' lies ahead.

Roy Rickhuss, from the Community trade union which represents many UK steel workers, said:

Whilst the last quarter shows there are some indications of improvement and the company have again today repeated there are no plans to cut back on investment or dispose of assets in the UK, the situation overall remains of concern the employees and their families.

He added that Michael Leahy, the union's general secretary, had arranged to meet the Tata Steel CEO, Karl Kohler, in London next week.