Unite the union has expressed its grave concern for the future of Tata’s flagship Port Talbot plant following comments made by the Tata Group chairman. Speaking to the Financial Times Natatajan Chandrasekran has said that Port Talbot and Tata’s other Welsh sites may have to close unless the UK government financially supports its move to the production of greener steel.

Unite regional secretary Peter Hughes said: “Steel is a strategic industry and must be central to the UK’s economic strategy. The UK government needs to urgently refocus its attention from who the next leader is going to be and concentrate on supporting workers and the maintenance of highly skilled, well paid steel jobs here in Wales."

It is understood that Tata is seeking £1.5bn in UK state aid to help fund the closure of two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and their replacement with two electric arc furnaces that are less carbon intensive.

Unite national officer Tony Brady said: “The words of Mr Chandrasekran will hang heavy over the steel towns of Wales this morning, and in particular at Port Talbot.

"The steel industry is central to the economy of Wales and as a critical foundation industry must be maintained at all costs. The UK government needs to act immediately and intervene to financially support Tata in its plans to put Port Talbot at the cutting edge of green steel production. No steel plant in the world has decarbonised their production without government assistance.

"If the UK government fails to step up to the plate it will never be forgiven by our steel communities across Wales.”