Fears over future of Tata steel plants amid Government support impasse

Unions have voiced their concerns over the giant Port Talbot plant.

22 July 2022

Unions have voiced concerns for the future of Tata’s steel plants following a warning they may have to close without Government support.

The company has been in talks with the Government about decarbonisation plans, but discussions are said to have stalled.

“A transition to a greener steel plant is the intention that we have … But this is only possible with financial help from the Government,” Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Group, told the Financial Times.

Unions said they were particularly worried about the future of the giant Port Talbot plant in South Wales as well as Tata’s other Welsh sites.

Unite official Peter Hughes said: “The Government need to urgently refocus their attention from who their next leader is going to be and concentrate on supporting workers and the maintenance of highly skilled, well paid steel jobs here in Wales.”

Unions said it is understood Tata is seeking £1.5 billion in UK state aid to help fund the closure of two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and their replacement with two electric arc furnaces that are less carbon intensive.

Unite National Officer Tony Brady said: “The words of Mr Chandrasekran will hang heavy over the steel towns of Wales this morning, and in particular at Port Talbot.

“The steel industry is central to the economy of Wales and as a critical foundation industry must be maintained at all costs.

“The UK Government needs to act immediately and intervene to financially support Tata in its plans to put Port Talbot at the cutting edge of green steel production. No steel plant in the world has decarbonised their production without Government assistance.”

A spokesperson for the Community union said: “This intervention from Tata is shocking, and has been made without any consultation with the trade unions. For months we’ve been in discussions with the company, but we should be clear there is no agreement on the decarbonisation roadmap.

“The unions have been working with our experts exploring low carbon options that will protect our country’s steelmaking capacity, jobs and communities. That process is unfinished, but Tata’s comments make a mockery of the company’s commitments to an open and transparent dialogue with the unions.

“Tata and the Government must do whatever it takes to secure the future of steelmaking at Port Talbot, and work with the trade unions to safeguard our vital strategic industry. Steelworkers will feel badly let down by Tata, and the company must live up to their moral and social responsibilities to the workforce.”

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