Tata Steel: Company's Port Talbot plans would 'secure the future of UK steelmaking'

Tata Steel plans to replace current blast furnaces with an electric arc furnace as it transitions to "green steelmaking." Credit: PA Images

Tata Steel's plans to install an electric arc furnace at its Port Talbot plant would "secure the future of UK steelmaking," according to the company.

A spokesperson for the steel giant said: “Our £1.25 billion plan for a state-of-the-art electric arc furnace in Port Talbot would be the largest investment in this country’s steel industry in decades."

However, unions are urging the company not to go ahead with its plans to replace current steelmaking facilities, fearing it could lead to the loss of almost 3,000 jobs.

Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of the Community union, described Tata's plans at its biggest UK plant as "reckless" and said the company should "do the right thing."

It is feared almost 3,000 jobs could be lost. Credit: PA Images

Meanwhile, Tata said its plan to install an electric arc furnace would "protect the majority of jobs," as well as triggering "a green industrial revolution in south Wales" and would cut the UK's carbon emissions by five million tonnes a year.

The spokesperson added: “We have been consulting union partners for seven months and have taken on board a number of their recommendations.

“However, the unions’ own analysis shows their proposal would cost the company at least an additional £1.6 billion when it is already losing £1 million a day.

“Their plans are also high risk and would jeopardise the transition to green steelmaking.”

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Community union said it had given Tata its final conclusions on the company's plans.

Mr Rickhuss said: "It weakens national security by removing Britain’s primary steelmaking capacity and it would have devastating consequences for steel communities in south Wales and beyond.

“Our multi-union plan is a credible alternative to Tata’s destructive scheme."

He added: “It would safeguard the future of Port Talbot steelmaking, protect all the downstream plants, save thousands of jobs and can be delivered with no compulsory redundancies.

“It is not too late for Tata to do the right thing and adopt the multi-union plan – and we hope that they will take this step.

Tata's decision has led to protests, with Unite members having already voted to strike. Credit: PA Images

“However, should the company choose to reject it, we will fight them every step of the way.”

The Welsh Government said 'quality steel, made in Wales, is the economic bedrock for many communities across Wales,'

“We have consistently argued that there is a better deal for the industry and Tata workers that could and should be struck - securing a longer, fairer transition towards the greener production of steel in Wales.

The Welsh Government will continue to make the case for that fairer transition and do all we can to support the skilled and loyal workforce and those in the supply chain. We will be reaffirming this commitment this afternoon to the transition board.”

Tata announced its plan to close its two blast furnaces at the Port Talbot site in a move towards a greener method of steelmaking earlier this year.

Unite members voted for industrial action last month, with around 1,500 workers at plants in Port Talbot and Llanwern backing the union's move.

Community is balloting its members over industrial action.

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