Tata set to cease operations at steel plant earlier than planned

Tata set to cease operations at steel plant earlier than planned

Tata is to take steps to cease operations at its steel plant in Port Talbot earlier than planned because of a strike by Unite, workers have been told.

The company had been planning to shut down one of the blast furnaces by the end of June and the second one by September.

But workers at the South Wales site have been told that because of the strike by members of Unite, from July 8 Tata can no longer be assured of sufficient resources being available to ensure safe and stable operations.

A message to employees said: “Therefore, we are left with no alternative but to take preparatory steps to cease operations on both blast furnaces and safely isolate them no later than July 7.”

Unite called the strike in protest at plans to switch to a more environmentally friendly way to produce steel, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Tata has also launched legal action against Unite’s ballot.

A Tata Steel spokesperson said: “Following the announcement by Unite Union to unilaterally call strike action from 8 July, Tata Steel is unfortunately forced to commence legal action to challenge the validity of Unite’s ballot.

“In the coming days, if we cannot be certain that we are able to continue to safely operate our assets in a stable fashion through the period of strike action, we will not have any choice but to pause or stop heavy end operations (including both blast furnaces) on the Port Talbot site.

“That is not a decision we would take lightly, and we recognise that it would prove extremely costly and disruptive throughout the supply chain, but the safety of people on or around our sites will always take priority over everything else.

“The company again calls for Unite to withdraw its industrial action and join Community and GMB unions in giving consideration to the company’s proposed Memorandum of Understanding, which puts forward a wide-ranging proposal including generous employee support packages, training and skills development.”

The Tata spokesperson added: “We understand the impact of our restructuring will have on many employees and contractors, but we remain committed to a just transition and — pending a Government-backed grant funding agreement — to the £1.25 billion investment in low-CO2 steelmaking, which will ensure Tata Steel has a long and sustainable future in the UK.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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