THE DEAL, struck between unions and Tata Steel, which guarantees no compulsory redundancies at Port Talbot for five years and accepts the end of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) has been ‘welcomed’ by the GMB, Unite and Community unions.
The deal now has to be put to the steel workers who will be balloted in the new year.
For the past year, steel unions have run a high profile ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign which has engaged tens of thousands of people in steel communities across the country.
However, they have not campaigned for the nationalisation of the industry. Senior union reps from every affected steelworks in the UK met with Tata Steel executives in Port Talbot yesterday to discuss the latest proposal.
Full details of the proposal have yet to be communicated directly to members, but the significant elements are:
• Production – A guaranteed minimum five-year commitment to two-blast-furnace steel making, with a further commitment to reinvest in Blast Furnace 5 as part of a Capex investment plan.
• Jobs – A jobs pact equivalent to Tata’s agreement with steelworkers at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands, which includes a commitment to seek to avoid any compulsory redundancies for five years.
• Investment – A comprehensive ten-year £1bn investment plan to support steel making at Port Talbot and secure the future of the downstream sites.
• Pension – Tata Steel will begin a consultation on the closure of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) to future accrual, replacing it with a defined contribution scheme with maximum contributions of 10% from the company and 6% from employees.
Dave Hulse, GMB National Officer, said: ‘This agreement would mean the blast furnaces at Port Talbot keep making steel and that steelworks across the UK get the investment they need to compete in the future.
‘We’ve fought hard to save jobs and today’s agreement is a credit to our members.
‘Today’s news is a step forward, but there is still much to be done. We will continue to fight for a level playing field for our industry, for action on energy costs, on business rates, and on the dumping of foreign steel.’
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said: ‘The past year has been incredibly difficult for steelworkers and their families. When Tata announced in March that they planned to sell the steelworks, no one knew if they would have a job by Christmas.
‘This proposal would secure jobs for years to come and bring serious investment not just to Port Talbot but to steelworks across the UK … This is not the end of the process and it will be for all our members to now vote on this proposal … We recognise that today’s announcement does not cover the Speciality Steels business in South Yorkshire or the SAW mills in Hartlepool.
‘We will continue to work hard with the companies involved to secure the investment necessary to ensure those businesses grow and that our members are protected.’
Tony Brady, Unite National Officer, said: ‘Today’s news is a step in the right direction for our industry but there is still a lot more that government can and must do.’