Posted: Fri 16th Feb 2024

Tata Steel job threat sparks union ballot for industrial action across all UK sites

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 16th, 2024

Community Union has confirmed its intention to ballot for industrial action in response to Tata Steel’s plans that threaten substantial job losses.

The decision comes as Tata Steel intends to push ahead with its decarbonisation strategy by closing both blast furnaces at its Port Talbot site, potentially leading to the loss of up 2,800 jobs.

This move by Tata Steel has been described as a “crushing blow” by unions, with the majority of job losses expected to occur in Port Talbot, where the steelworks will transition to a greener electric arc furnace.

Tata Steel started a formal 45-day consultation earlier this month on its plans for Port Talbot.

Community, which represents more steelworkers than any other union, including those most impacted by Tata’s decarbonisation plans, has voiced its readiness to prepare for a major industrial dispute.

The union has said it will ballot for industrial action across all its membership at Tata Steel UK, which includes Port Talbot’s downstream sites, including Shotton.

General Secretary Roy Rickhuss CBE highlighted the urgency of the situation, stating, “Industrial action is always a last resort, but Tata’s actions mean we now have to prepare for that eventuality.”

He said: “Industrial action is always a last resort, but Tata’s actions mean we now have to prepare for that eventuality. Recent statements from the leadership of Tata Steel leave little doubt the company is determined to impose its devastating proposals come what may, making a complete mockery of the ongoing consultation process.

“There is still time for Tata to change their position, but as things stand, we are heading towards a major industrial dispute. Community’s senior officials have unanimously endorsed balloting our membership for industrial action, and we are preparing for that ballot to take place as soon as is practically possible.

“Tata should take note – we are prepared to fight for our industry and our communities. We will not be walking silently into the night.”

Community Union Assistant General Secretary Alasdair McDiarmid said: “Whilst the consultation on Tata’s plan is still ongoing, recent comments from the senior leadership of Tata Steel have brought that process into disrepute. It is apparent that Tata are no longer considering alternatives to their disastrous plan to install a 3 million tonne electric arc furnace, which we have always said is completely unacceptable, and we are seriously concerned the consultation is a sham.

“Tata’s attempts to misrepresent and discredit the credible alternative Multi-Union Plan have been quite frankly disgraceful. Tata must think again, and engage with us in meaningful consultations to secure a just transition and the future of Port Talbot and all the downstream sites.

“Rishi Sunak has to step up too and back our industry to the extent the German Government is backing theirs. The Multi-Union Plan has received unanimous cross-party support in the Senedd, the backing of industry experts and MPs across the house, and can be delivered if only our Government matches the ambition of our European neighbours.”

Alun Davies, National Officer for Steel at Community Union, said: “No worker ever relishes the prospect of going on strike, but we are being pushed ever-closer to that option. Tata needs to know that we are serious about fighting for the future of Port Talbot and the downstream sites, a future which their plans would damage irreversibly.

“Tata’s plan represented the cheapest option on the table and it is bad for jobs, bad for the economy, bad for the environment, and bad for national security. We will not accept it.

“Today’s resolution confirms our intent to ballot on industrial action if Tata are unwilling to reconsider their damaging proposals. We will not stand back and allow our livelihoods, our communities, and the UK’s steelmaking capacity to be thrown on the scrap heap.”

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