'We're not going anywhere. We will stand and fight together', say Tata steelworkers

Steelworkers say they will "stand and fight together" against Tata's plans to close both blast furnaces at its biggest UK plant.

Tata Steel confirmed the plans on Friday (19 January), putting nearly 3,000 jobs UK-wide at risk.

The announcement has been met with "concern" from steelworkers who are "frightened" by the possible impact of the company's decision.

Craig Gosney has worked at the steelworks in Port Talbot for five years and was looking for a "different opportunity in life".

He said: "Tata had so much to offer on the plate that you could progress, you could learn new skills and it was a big company to work for."

"I was reassured thinking it's a steelworks and it would be a good place to stay for the rest of my life - a job for life."

"We won't give up", said Craig.

He explained how the workforce at the Port Talbot site is close, despite there being thousands who work there.

"In the steelworks, you're working with thousands of people but we're all brothers and sisters, all fighting for the same cause", said Craig.

"Whether you're a Tata employee, a contractor, or anyone who is working in the area for Tata - we will all fight together. It's one big family.

He added: "We need to keep steel in South Wales basically and we need to keep the area thriving so we're going to all stand together and fight, and fight to the very end.

"We won't give up. This is our livelihoods, absolute livelihoods and we're not going anywhere. We will stand and fight together."

The plans put nearly 3,000 jobs at risk UK wide.

Being a father of two, Craig said he's "really concerned" for his and his coworker's families.

"We've got a mortgage to pay for which has recently increased. Energy prices increasing, food prices increasing, so we've got a lot of commitments", he said.

"It's not just myself. Everyone's in the same boat, so if you can imagine up to 3000 people losing their jobs in the local area, we're all going to suffer.

"Businesses are going to suffer from the fact that there's no money coming in, so it's not just my personal loss, it's the loss for all the steelworks. We're all going to suffer."

When asked what message he would like to give Tata, Craig said he wants the company to "look at what's right in front of you."

"You've got a solid workforce who are prepared to work and work the hours and we're willing to help with this plan", he added.

"If there's a plan from the unions that says this could work, you need to give it a go.

"There are up to 3000 people that are relying on Tata Steel to survive. It's not just about living, it's about surviving life, we need the steelworks there."

"We're a strong team. We're still fighting through thick and thin through everything that's happened in the last couple of decades - we're going strong, so why can't Tata as a company accept that there's a plan, a really solid plan that could help us keep our jobs, keep steel in Wales and keep Port Talbot thriving?"

Ryan Davies has worked at the Port Talbot site for 33 years.

"How are we going to put food on the table? How are we going to keep roofs over our heads?", he said.

"I'm coming up to 50 years old, I'm still not near retirement age but I look at the younger boys who've got massive mortgages and kids and things like that and I can only imagine how they feel.

Ryan's also creates street art, which he says he's "going to have to try to make a living from".

"My daughter's getting a bit older now and everything, so I do feel for the youngsters and everybody because they are the one's who are really going to be in a negative position."

One of Ryan's hobbies is street art, which he says he's "going to have to try to make a living from".

But added, "not everybody is in that position - I have actually got something I can fall back on.

"But it's not stable work like the steelworks is, there's no pension like the steelworks has. All those things that the steelworks brought for all those years has been decimated and it's very, very frightening."

Ryan said one of his biggest concern's at the moment is the "unknown".

"The reality of it is frightening the impact it's probably going to have on a lot of people, you can't even comprehend it at the moment", he said.

"What's the next step for us? Are we going to have help from the Government? It's just the total unknown and not knowing what's going on."

Reacting to Tata's announcement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK government is “absolutely committed” to British steelmaking, when asked about expected plans for Tata Steel to close both blast furnaces at its biggest UK plant, threatening more than 3,000 job losses.

Asked whether he was happy about the prospect of job cuts, Mr Sunak said: “I know first of all that it will be a worrying time for everyone affected, and because it’s a commercially sensitive matter, and people appreciate there’s a limit to what I can say.

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

“But what I can tell you is we are absolutely committed to steelmaking in the UK and that’s why the Government provided half a billion pounds to support Tata.

“The alternative, by the way, was it, the entire plant will be closed and all 8,000 jobs will be lost, but the Government worked with the company.

“The company is investing more money in order to safeguard thousands of jobs, and that’s something that the UK Government has done.

“The Welsh Government did not participate in that and that’s because we cared about those jobs and the future of steelmaking in Wales and the UK, because there’s an announcement coming later, but it’s important that we wait for that.”

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