Unions have presented steel maker Tata with an alternative plan aimed at saving thousands of jobs at the Port Talbot steel plant in south Wales.
Tata Steel wants to decarbonise its site at Port Talbot in south Wales as part of efforts to safeguard its future. The plant is Wales’ largest polluter and the Indian-owned company has negotiated a £500m UK government grant towards its £1.25bn plan to decarbonise the site.
Unions fear the company’s plan to use electric arc furnaces instead of the current gas fired blast furnaces would lead to around 3,000 job losses. They have used independent consultancy Syndex to draw up an alternative plan for the Port Talbot site which has now been presented to Tata.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “A just transition to net zero can only be delivered with workers at the table. It is unacceptable that the steel unions were locked out of negotiations between ministers and Tata Steel about Port Talbot.
“The agreement reached between Tata Steel and the government is a bad deal for workers, for the steel industry and for the country. It will result in mass job losses, further run down Britain’s industrial capacity and fail to deliver the jobs of the future that we desperately need.
“Community, Unite and GMB are putting forward a better plan – one that will protect jobs, lead an industrial revival and meet the UK’s commitment to net zero. It’s time for ministers and Tata Steel to step back from the brink, sit down with unions and engage with this serious plan to secure the future of steelmaking at Port Talbot.”
Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB national officer, said: “Unions always said Tata’s plan wasn’t viable – hopefully the company are beginning to recognise that too.
“The alternative plan developed by Syndex is credible, workable and will secure decarbonised steelmaking in south Wales – as well as further down the supply chain.
“Tata, the government and unions now need to work together to make it happen.”
A Tata Steel spokesperson said: “Tata Steel, its employee representatives and the UK and Welsh governments are all committed to transitioning to greener steelmaking in the UK.
“While we recognise the understandable concerns of our many stakeholders, we are confident that we can build a sustainable, low carbon business that continues to support steel communities, and will be at the heart of a future green UK economy.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the UK Steel Committee’s report and the independent analysis it will offer. We will give it full consideration before entering into formal consultation with our employee representatives and will ensure these discussions are transparent, productive and carried out in a meaningful way.”
Earlier this month, Tata Steel reported a three-monthly loss of 65.11bn Indian rupees (£628m) driven by restructuring costs at its UK operations, lower sales and falling prices. Port Talbot produced around 2.8 million tonnes in 2022, although that is expected to increase to more than 3 million tonnes this year.