UK-TATA £1.2bn DEAL – 3,000 JOBS TO GO!

Steel workers marching to Parliament on June 28th demanding action to save jobs

WELSH ministers and Tata bosses are due to continue talks this week about the future of the Port Talbot site.

The UK government and Tata have agreed a £1.2bn deal to try to secure its future and 5,000 out of 8,000 jobs in the UK, of which 4,000 are based at the plant.

Tata Steel boss T.V. Narendran said its factory was losing up to £1.5m a day.

Locals like Olivia Martin, whose father and partner work at Tata, said that any job cuts could ‘have a massive impact’ on people’s lives.

‘It keeps a lot of roofs above people’s heads,’ said Martin from Cwmafan.

The company’s plans involve switching from using blast furnaces powered by fossil fuels to electric arc furnaces which can be powered by using renewable energy.

And instead of producing virgin steel, the plant would produce recycled steel.

Community union official Barbara Evans said local businesses were reliant on the Tata site and would be concerned about their future as well as Tata employees.

‘What we would really like is a clear decision on what the investment is going to include for us,’ she said.

‘The steel industry is a one-in-four employer, meaning for every job in the steel industry you are looking at four jobs associated with it in the local community.

‘It is not just Port Talbot but the wider south Wales area. I don’t live locally but I have worked here for nearly 30 years.’

Retired Port Talbot steel worker Andrew O’Connor said any uncertainty over steel jobs had previously created a ‘really unhealthy and horrible atmosphere to be working in, in such a dangerous environment’.

In a café in town, customer Ken Down said the steelworks had long been an integral part of local life and job losses would ‘devastate this town’.

‘This town has for many years focused totally on the steelworks as the main source of income,’ he said.

Torfaen council leader Anthony Hunt, who also represents the Welsh Local Government Association on finance, said: ‘Clarity and support are urgently needed for the workers at this incredibly worrying time.

‘Any job losses on this scale would be a body blow to thousands of families, and the wider shockwaves would be keenly felt in the economy and communities,’ he added.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said he would meet Tata again next week to continue talks, after meeting with union officials on Friday.

‘The Welsh government will continue to work closely with the trade unions and the company to do everything we can to minimise job losses,’ he added.

The Welsh Conservatives economy spokesman Paul Davies said: ‘Without UK government investment, there would be a bigger risk to jobs and steel production in an area dependent on the industry.

‘With negotiations still ongoing, the Prime Minister is securing the future of steel production in Port Talbot, which will be more focused on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment.’

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