Unions slam Tata Steel after ‘shocking’ job cuts announcement

The company said it wanted to come to terms with a ‘severe’ international steel market, with up to 3,000 jobs at risk across its European operations.

Tata Steel's base at Wednesfield Steelpark
Tata Steel's base at Wednesfield Steelpark

Unions are seeking urgent assurances about the future of steel plants in the UK after Tata Steel announced plans to axe thousands of jobs.

The company, which employs around 750 staff at Wednesfield Steelpark in Wolverhampton, said it wanted to come to terms with a “severe” international steel market, with up to 3,000 jobs at risk across its European operations.

Tata added that there would be no plant closures, but unions have voiced concern about the impact in the UK.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said: “This is a shocking announcement, which will worry many steelworkers and their families in the UK and across Europe.

“This news has been badly handled and the company should hang its head in shame with the way this development has been communicated.

“The workforce should not pay the price for the failure of the joint venture with Thyssenkrupp nor the lack of a plan B when the joint venture talks collapsed.

“We secured a jobs guarantee until 2021 and we will be robustly defending that agreement.

“We want a long-term vision for the future of steelmaking in Tata Steel Europe, not the management of decline by 3,000 job cuts.

“While company management are responsible for the direction they are taking, yet again we must call for more action to create a level playing field for UK steel businesses.

“Our steel producers continue to face higher energy costs, high business rates and competition from cheap imports.

“Government attempts to address these longstanding issues have not created the environment our steel companies need to compete effectively in a global market.”

Mike Payne, the GMB’s senior organiser for Wales and the South West, said: “We are demanding reassurances from Tata that these Europe-wide cuts won’t affect our members in Port Talbot.

“We understand the global challenges affecting the steel industry but any loss of jobs could be a threat not only to the families affected, but also to the wider community.

“This uncertainty and constant threat of job losses drains confidence from the whole workforce.”

Henrik Adam, chief executive of Tata Steel in Europe, said: “We are highlighting important proposals towards building a financially strong and sustainable European business.

“We plan to change how we work together to enable better co-operation and faster decision-making.

“This will help us become self-sustaining and cash-positive in the face of unprecedented severe market conditions, enabling us to lead the way towards a carbon-neutral future.”

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said: “This is terrible news for Tata Steel workers, made all the worse coming just before Christmas.

“This Conservative Government has failed to support our manufacturing industry and people are paying for that failure with their livelihoods.”

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