Unions call on Tata to protect jobs at Britain's biggest steelworks, Port Talbot

Steelworkers' leaders tonight blasted a threat from a top industry executive who warned metals giant Tata would not go on "funding losses" at Britain's biggest plant. Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Sons group, which owns Port Talbot steelworks, said the South Wales site needs to be "self-sustaining". His intervention triggered fresh fears for the future of the factory.

The National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee (NTUSCC) - which includes officials from the GMB union, Unite and Community - issued a statement saying: "The last few months the company has sought to engage us in sensitive discussions on the future of Tata Steel Europe. "It is extremely disappointing that Tata has sought to influence those discussions by making threats in the media and adding to the concerns of the workforce. "The NTUSCC recognises there are challenges at Tata Steel UK, mainly caused by years of under-investment in the assets, and we are open to joint discussions to deliver a sustainable future for the business."

The Tata Steel plant is a massive local employer

Tata Steel's pre-tax losses were GBP371million last year, up from GBP222millon in 2017-18.

The firm announced plans in November to slash 3,000 jobs across Europe. Experts fear 1,000 posts could go at Port Talbot, where Tata opened a GBP50million blast furnace just a year ago. Tata Steel's European operations chief executive Hans Fischer said at the time: "We are committed to build on our future for the UK."

But, speaking to the Sunday Times last weekend, Mr Chandrasekaran said: "Everyone will tell you that the Tatas have gone way beyond to keep this going - anybody else would have walked away.

Unions call on Tata to protect jobs at Britain's biggest steelworks, Port TalbotThe steelworks dominates the Port Talbot skyline

"I don't want to make those tall statements [about commitment]. "We are taking some hard calls. So, hopefully, we should see some results."

Furious union chiefs said in their statement: "Tata Steel UK employees must not pay the price for Tata's failures. "However we have made it clear to Tata Steel, at the highest levels, that the way forward for Tata Steel UK must include new commitments on job security and commitments on strategic capital expenditure to safeguard the future of UK steelmaking." Labour[1] MP Stephen Kinnock, whose Aberavon constituency includes the Port Talbot works, said: "In 2016 Tata did a deal with its workers over pensions in which they agreed that there wouldn't be any compulsory redundancies.

"However, Tata's announcement in November about new job losses, followed by Mr Chandrasekaran's comments this weekend, seems to threaten that agreement.

Unions call on Tata to protect jobs at Britain's biggest steelworks, Port TalbotAberavon MP Stephen Kinnock called on the company to honour promises it made

"Our Port Talbot steelworks is suffering from decades of under-investment. "Projects such as the renovation of blast furnace number five are of course very welcome indeed, but it takes time for these investments to bear fruit. "Our steelworkers have shown tremendous strength, patience, courage and resilience through these difficult times.

Unions call on Tata to protect jobs at Britain's biggest steelworks, Port TalbotThe Mirror is campaigning to Save Our Steel

"Tata Steel must now show those same qualities."

The Mirror has been campaigning to Save Our Steel since the industry was hammered by plant closures and thousands of job losses in 2015.

References

  1. ^ Labour (www.mirror.co.uk)

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