The Tata Group needs to show its steel and commit to steelmaking at Port Talbot and in the UK when its board meets later today (Tuesday 29 March 2016) said Britain’s largest union, Unite.
Urging the UK government to play a more active role in securing Port Talbot’s future, Unite warned a failure to do so would lead to the devastation of communities and the loss of thousands of jobs across the manufacturing supply chain in Wales and the UK.
The livelihoods of thousands of UK steelworkers are at stake when Tata’s board meets today, with the future of its Port Talbot plant in South Wales under discussion as well as plans to sell its Scunthorpe long products plant to Greybull Capital.
Pointing to the Scottish government’s active role in securing the future of the Clydebridge and Dalzell steel works last week, Unite called on UK ministers to take a more interventionist approach to save the British steel industry, including temporary public ownership should plants close.
Port Talbot is one of the biggest steel plants in Europe, providing steel for the automotive industry, tin cans and coins.
Commenting Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “These are deeply uncertain times for steelworkers and their communities. Our members should be in no doubt that Unite is fighting every step of the way to secure their livelihoods and the future of steelmaking in Wales and the rest of the UK.
“We are very confident that Port Talbot can have a future, can continue to contribute to our national wealth. Independent analysis by Syndex shows that Tata’s own transformation plan will return the Port Talbot plant to a competitive footing, but it is clear that the UK government needs to play an active role in backing investment to secure the plant’s future for generations to come.
“We would urge the UK government to take a more interventionist approach in securing the future of Port Talbot and steelmaking across the UK. The Scottish government did so last week and secured the future of two steel plants in Lanarkshire.
“The UK government must learn for the Scottish government and avoid another Redcar, where leaving it too long saw a national asset closed. Ministers need to rule nothing out in supporting a key foundation industry, including temporary nationalisation should the need arise.”
Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards said: “We urge the Tata board to show some steel and commit to steelmaking in Port Talbot and the UK for the long term. Port Talbot is an integral part of the Welsh economy, supporting jobs in the local community and throughout the manufacturing supply chain.
“Port Talbot’s closure would devastate the Welsh economy. We urge the Tory government in Westminster to put aside political game playing and work with Unite and the Welsh Assembly government to save our steel.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.