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Tata Steel UK staff to stage indefinite strike: union

By AFP

June 21, 2024 11:07 PM


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Tata Steel UK staff in south Wales will begin an "indefinite strike" from July 8 in protest over the company's job-slashing plans, trade union Unite said on Friday.

The Indian-owned giant began closing ovens at its sprawling Port Talbot facility in March. The ovens, which had initially been planned to shutter from July, are used to turn coal into coke, a key raw material used in the steel-making process.

"Around 1,500 Tata workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern will begin all-out indefinite strike action over the company's plans to cut 2,800 jobs and close its blast furnaces," Unite said in a statement on Friday.

"The strike... will severely impact Tata's UK operations. It is the first time in over 40 years that steel workers in the UK have taken strike action."

The walkout will begin just four days Britain holds a general election, with the main opposition Labour party widely tipped to comfortably beat the governing Conservatives.

"Labour has also made emergency talks with Tata a priority if it wins the election," added Unite.

Tata revealed in January that it was planning to shut the coke ovens and two high-emission blast furnaces in Port Talbot, the UK's biggest steelworks, leading to the loss of up to 2,800 jobs.

"Tata's workers are not just fighting for their jobs -- they are fighting for the future of their communities and the future of steel in Wales," added Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

"The strikes will go on until Tata halts its disastrous plans. Unite is backing Tata's workers to the hilt in their historic battle to save the Welsh steel industry and give it the bright future it deserves."

The overhaul comes with the European steel industry facing upheaval as it tries to finance less carbon-intensive production.

Tata is seeking to invest £1.25 billion ($1.58 billion) into electric arc furnace technology to try to cut long-term carbon emissions.

The company said in response to the walk-out announcement that it was "extremely disappointed".

"Our existing steelmaking assets are near the end of their life, are operationally unstable and causing unsustainable losses of £1 million a day," a statement read.

"This is why preparations to close the blast furnaces and associated plants in Port Talbot are unchanged.

"However, if the safety and stability of our operations are put at risk by this action, we will be forced to accelerate those closure plans."

Tata said it believed its support offer to workers affected by the closure was "the most generous in our history".

 

 


AFP


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