Community, the steelworkers' union, is pressing Tata Steel UK to scrap what it calls its 'bad deal for steel' and commit to an alternative 'Multi-Union Plan'.

The call follows a meeting between steel unions and Tata officials last week, and the publication of a new report from industry expert Syndex which criticises Tata's approach for pursuing 'what's cheap' over 'what's best'. The report highlights that the company's current proposal – which would cut around 2,800 jobs in South Wales by moving production at Port Talbot to a single 3Mt electric arc furnace (EAF) – comes with significant risks, and would make Tata Steel UK an outlier in Europe.

In contrast, Syndex claims that its Multi-Union Plan is "the only solution offering to maintain all the volume currently produced by Tata Steel UK" and providing "a future for all the company's assets and a roadmap for a just transition under the constraint of the financial hurdles and the reality of market dynamics for the UK steel industry.”

The Multi-Union Plan, based on a model to install 2x160t EAFs, would require £622m of additional CAPEX compared to the company’s proposals. However, the additional investment, says Community, could be financed by the operations (EBITDA of £172m between 2026 and 2032) if the British government committed to providing an extra £450m.

This would take total public support for the decarbonisation of Port Talbot to £950m – which, according to Community, is still way below the support packages Germany and others are providing. "We believe this to be absolutely deliverable – and in line with the £3bn Green Steel Fund the Labour Party has guaranteed to deliver for us over the next parliament.

"During our meeting with Tata last week, members of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee provided our final conclusions on the company's restructuring proposals: namely that the company's plan is reckless."

Roy Rickhuss, Community's general secretary.

"During our meeting with Tata last week, members of the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee provided our final conclusions on the company's restructuring proposals: namely that the company's plan is reckless; that it weakens national security by removing Britain's primary steelmaking capacity; and that it would have devastating consequences for steel communities in South Wales and beyond.

"Our Multi-Union Plan is a credible alternative to Tata's destructive scheme. It would safeguard the future of Port Talbot steelmaking, protect all the downstream plants, save thousands of jobs and can be delivered with no compulsory redundancies.

"It is not too late for Tata to do the right thing and adopt the Multi-Union Plan – and we hope that they will take this step. However, should the company choose to reject it, we will fight them every step of the way. To enable us to do this, we will need the strongest possible mandate from our ongoing industrial action ballot. For that reason, I am urging all our members to vote 'YES' and 'YES' and return their ballot papers at the earliest opportunity."

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, commented: "As industry experts at Syndex have laid out this week, the Multi-Union Plan is a detailed, serious, robust and compelling proposal for the future of the Port Talbot steelworks and it has my full and unequivocal support. It's the only realistic route to retaining our customer base, and it's also the only credible pathway to a strong, competitive and profitable future for steel-making in Port Talbot and throughout the downstream plants across Wales and the UK. By contrast Tata's shortsighted and counter-productive plan will mean exporting jobs from Port Talbot to India, a country where steel plants have a far higher carbon footprint."

Kinnock said it was vital that steel is at the heart of a forward-looking industrial strategy, which is why Labour has pledged £3 billion to support the industry over the next decade.