Tata: 'How are we going to feed our families?' - Port Talbot steelworkers concerned about future

ITV Wales spoke with Stuart Phillips, who works at Tata Steelworks in Port Talbot and says it's a "worrying time".

Steelworkers in Port Talbot and beyond are hoping Tata Steel will today (19 January) outline its plans to decarbonise the industry.

ITV understands the steel giant plans to close both of its blast furnaces at its steelworks in the south Wales town which could lead to up to 3,000 job losses.

Although there is hope a few hundred positions could be saved in the transition period, the future looks bleak for many workers.

Company bosses met trade union representatives in London yesterday with workers in the industry left waiting for official confirmation off their employer.

Unite boss Sharon Graham claimed ICTS can ‘easily afford’ a better pay deal Credit: PA

Stuart Phillips lives in Llanelli, he's worked at the plant for 26 years and says his friends and colleagues are concerned about "how they are going to feed their families".

He said: "Tata has provided me with an incredible life. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve had nice cars, and nice houses and the thought of not having a regular income and job security it’s most certainly a worry.

"There are a lot of people who are very well paid in Port Talbot and looking for these jobs further afield."

He says working in the steel industry is "a way of life". A lot of his friends and colleagues have been doing "the job" for between 30 and 40 years and he added, "it is all we know".

Mr Phillips says everyone is concerned about what is going to happen next. He said: "It is quite daunting, the thought not to have that opportunity I think to work down the road.

"I think there is going to have to be a lot of retraining. There is not a great deal of work out there. There are jobs out there but you need the right expertise."

He admits a lot of colleagues have already been looking at what to do next and it's leaving gaps in different areas of the plant.

"There’s going to be an abundance of people looking for not a great deal of jobs to be honest," he said.

Mr Phillips added: "People are looking about a lot of places, a lot of tradesmen in different areas of the plant have been looking to leave and it’s been leaving gaps at the moment for us within the business. It’s quite a worrying time.

The UK Government has invested £500 million into the green-steel technology. Credit: Tata Steel

"There are a lot of people concerned about how are they going to feed their families, how do they go forward and what are the next steps?"

Large-scaled job losses would be a "crushing blow to Port Talbot" and "steelworkers and their families will suffer", says Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB National Officer.

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

Tata have been accused of "playing games with people's livelihoods" by Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. She is calling for the government to "step in and step up".

She said: "Whatever and however they announce their plans for Port Talbot, Unite will fight tooth and nail to defend steel workers and our steel industry.

"We have already clearly demonstrated how and why Tata should be expanding UK steel production in line with growing demand."

Number 10 has declined to comment on yesterday's reports. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said she could not comment on “speculation in relation to commercial matters”.

She added: “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.”

ITV Wales has asked Tata Steel for a response.

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