Michael Sheen says he hopes 'this isn't the end of the story' for Tata steelworkers in Port Talbot

Speaking to ITV Cymru Wales' Backstage programme, Michael Sheen said the steelworks "has always been under threat." Credit: PA Images / ITV Cymru Wales

Actor Michael Sheen has told ITV Wales he hopes "this isn't the end of the story" for Tata steelworkers in Port Talbot.

It follows plans by Tata Steel to close both blast furnaces at its Port Talbot site, which could result in almost 3,000 job losses.

Following seven months of discussions with unions, Tata revealed last Thursday it is proceeding with its £1.25 billion investment in an electric arc furnace on the Port Talbot site and will close the two blast furnaces by the end of June and end of September respectively.

The move is expected to see 2,800 jobs lost, the majority at its site in Port Talbot.

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

Speaking to ITV Cymru Wales' Backstage programme, the actor said: "Ever since I can remember the steelworks being there, all my life it's always been under threat.

"So it's not like it came as a massive surprise, although it's still a huge shock obviously."

Sheen is currently starring in Nye, a new play about the life of NHS founder Aneurin Bevan, at the Wales Millennium Centre from 18 May until 1 June.

"The wind has been blowing in one direction for a very long time," he continued.

He added: "I hope that that's not the end of the story."

Sheen shared his concern for the local community, adding: "Not only is it going to affect people and families and the community financially and economically, but also psychologically. The steelworks is the heart of the town and so what that will do to the psyche of the town as well is hard to really underestimate.

"I hope there's support there, I hope that this isn't the end of the story, that there's still a road to go down, but whatever happens, I hope that everybody gets the support that they deserve."

While unions and politicians have criticised the decision, Tata has said it is planning the biggest investment in the steel industry for decades, safeguarding the industry and preserving 5,000 jobs.

Talking about Tata's plans to install a new furnace, a spokesperson for the steel giant said: “It would protect the majority of jobs, reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by five million tonnes a year and could kickstart a green industrial revolution in south Wales."

  • Find out more about Nye on Backstage: Sunday 12 May at 6:45pm or catch up afterwards here.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…