Tata bosses trigger countdown to Port Talbot job losses

A spokesperson for the steel giant says they have already submitted a "headline number of roles" likely to be affected by the move to electric arc furnaces. Credit: PA images

Tata Steel bosses have triggered the countdown to job losses at their UK plants leaving families at Port Talbot and beyond facing anxious weeks ahead.

The minimum 45-day consultation process, which began today (February 2), will see bosses discuss finalised restructuring plans with trade unions.

A spokesperson for the steel giant says they have already submitted a "headline number of roles" likely to be affected by the move to electric arc furnaces.

It comes after the announcement last month that nearly 3,000 jobs will be axed in the coming years – the majority of which are expected to be at its Port Talbot plant.

Tata announced in January that it plans to close Port Talbot's two blast furnaces in a move towards a greener method of steelmaking.

This method, although better for the climate, is less labour intensive and will therefore require less workers.

A Tata Steel spokesperson said: “Today we have started the formal consultation process with our Trades Union partners regarding the proposed restructuring of the UK business.

"This information sharing and consultation process will continue for a minimum of 45 days, through which we hope to have an open and constructive dialogue regarding the challenges the business is facing."

They continued: "We have submitted the headline numbers of roles that would be impacted at each of our UK sites, and shared these through the UK Steel Committee.

“We understand what an unsettling time this is for our people and we are determined to give every support to our employees, contractor partners and communities with the help of the Transition Board, which met again yesterday.”

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Speaking on behalf of Unite, general secretary Sharon Graham spoke of the union's plans to "fight for jobs" at Port Talbot as they believe the steel bosses' decision is "short sighted" and "a threat to our national security" as the only G20 nation reliant on importing high grade steel.

Peter Hughes, Unite regional secretary for Wales, said: “The proposed redundancies would be devastating for the workforce, Port Talbot and South Wales and would leave the UK unable to make virgin steel.

"Unite will be entering into consultation with Tata over these plans and will be crystal clear that they should not be happening. We cannot have rushed talks and the statutory consultation period of 45 days is entirely inadequate given the sheer scale of the proposed job losses and the knock-on effects they would have.

Labour has made clear in commitments to Unite that it will provide significant funding for Port Talbot as part of a £3 billion fund for the UK steel industry and has told Tata to wait for a general election. That’s exactly what Tata should be doing.”

A UK Government source said that “TATA has been clear that both of its blast furnaces - one is at the end of life and the other is financially unviable - are to be closed.

“Everyone wants to preserve as many jobs as possible. That’s why the UK Government has provided half a billion pounds in funding to maintain steel production in South Wales.

“TATA has been unequivocal from the start that it’s this deal or the closure of the entire Port Talbot site.”

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