It's official: Tata Steel will be cutting jobs at its integrated steelmaking facility in Port Talbot, South Wales, United Kingdom, with almost immediate effect, claiming that around 2,500 of the 2,800 jobs to be axed are for the chop over the next 18 months.
The company prefers to use more positive language, such as 'ambitious transformation' but the end result is dire: major job losses as Tata Steel sets about reversing 'more than a decade of losses' and steering the business away from traditional blast furnaces and thereby reducing CO2 emissions from the plant by a massive 5Mt/year – that's around 1.5% of overall UK country emissions.
But it's the announcement of massive job losses that will grab all the headlines over the next few days despite the fact that Tata's ambitious plans will mean steering away from the blast furnace and adjusting the facility to produce steel using electric arc furnaces, by far the cleaner option in terms of emissions.
"Tata's decision to follow the Conservative business model of managed decline for British steelmaking will cause the job losses of 3,000 hard-working men and women."Stephen Kinnock MP for Aberavon, home of Tata Steel's Port Talbot steelworks
Port Talbot's two blast furnaces and coke ovens will close in the summer and other 'heavy end assets' during the second half of 2024. The plant's Continuous Annealing Processing Line will be closed in March 2025. Tata Steel has said it will continue to operate its hot strip mill 'through the proposed transition period and in future' and stated that downstream and steel processing centres will continue by utilising imported semi-finished steel from Tata plants in the Netherlands and India.
The bill for Tata Steel's Port Talbot transformation is a whopping £1.25 billion of which the British Government has committed to £500 million. Tata itself will invest £750 million along with a 'comprehensive support package' for affected employees.
Stephen Kinnock MP for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks, commented: "Tata's decision to follow the Conservative business model of managed decline for British steelmaking will cause the job losses of 3,000 hard-working men and women – each of whom have dedicated their lives to an industry which underpins Britain's automotive industry, railways, defence sector, consumer goods, construction, wind turbines and so much more.
"Global demand for steel is actually growing, but by pursuing a narrow Electric Arc Furnace-only model Tata Steel will be unable to seize the commercial opportunities of the future, while at the same time leaving Britain more dependent on imported steel from countries whose governments won't always have Britain's best interests at heart.
"It’s unbelievable any Government would give a company £500m to throw 3,000 workers on the scrapheap, and our Government must re-evaluate its miserly offer to support investment at Tata Steel."Part of a joint statement from the Community and GMB unions.
"Tata Steel and the Government must rethink their approach and recognise that an exciting and prosperous future for British steelmaking can be found by adopting the multi-union plan, which will be significantly strengthened by the investment that the Labour has pledged to deliver in government."
The Community and GMB unions have jointly described the decision by Tata Steel UK as 'extremely disappointing. "Since Tata Steel and the UK Government announced their bad deal for steel on the 15th of September, the unions have been clear that proposals to install a 3Mt electric arc furnace (EAF) are completely unacceptable. As Community and the GMB, our experts and Tata Steel all understand, the installation of a 3Mt EAF Port Talbot inevitably means the end of the blast furnaces, major production cuts and thousands of job losses before 2027."
On the British Government's contribution to the required £1.25 billion for the Port Talbot transformation, the GMB and Community commented: "It’s unbelievable any Government would give a company £500m to throw 3,000 workers on the scrapheap, and our Government must re-evaluate its miserly offer to support investment at Tata Steel.
"The German, French and Spanish Governments are all committing billions to secure the future of their strategically important steel industries, and our Government must show similar ambition."Part of a joint statement from the Community and GMB unions.
"The German, French and Spanish Governments are all committing billions to secure the future of their strategically important steel industries, and our Government must show similar ambition.
"Tata Steel and the UK Government must reconsider their positions in order to safeguard the future of British steelmaking, and head off a major industrial dispute. Since Tata acquired our business in 2007 they have been a responsible owner, and we recognise they have taken a long-term view where others might not have done. The coming weeks will put Tata’s values to the test.