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Tata Steel Announces Closure of Blast Furnaces at Port Talbot, Resulting in 2,800 Job Losses

Tata Steel Announces Closure of Blast Furnaces at Port Talbot, Resulting in 2,800 Job Losses

Tata Steel, an Indian-owned steel giant, has confirmed the closure of both blast furnaces at its Port Talbot plant in south Wales, leading to a significant loss of jobs. The decision, affecting 2,800 workers, comes as the company shifts away from its existing production method to adopt greener steelmaking practices.

Despite a proposed plan by GMB and Community unions, deemed unfeasible and unaffordable by Tata Steel, the blast furnace closures will result in 2,500 job cuts within the next 18 months. The Port Talbot plant, the largest steelworks in the UK, currently employs 4,000 out of Tata’s 8,000-strong UK workforce.

The company rejected an alternative proposal by unions that aimed to transition Port Talbot toward greener steelmaking over an extended period, ensuring no compulsory redundancies and safeguarding Britain’s domestic steel supply.

Tata Steel had been promised up to £500 million by the UK government to support a greener approach and keep the plant operational. The closure, however, leaves a considerable portion of the UK workforce without jobs, raising concerns about the nation’s dependence on steel imports from countries like India, Russia, and China until a replacement electric arc furnace is established, expected in 2027.

The decision prompted strong reactions from unions, with GMB and Community expressing disappointment and criticizing Tata and the UK government for pursuing what they termed the “cheapest instead of the best plan for our industry, our steelworkers, and our country.” The unions also accused Unite, another workers’ representative, of undermining the proposed plan.

Political figures, including Labour’s shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds and MP Stephen Kinnock, condemned the decision as devastating for Port Talbot and the UK steel industry. The UK government, emphasizing commitment to British steelmaking, approved a grant of £500 million for Tata’s restructuring, part of an overall investment of £750 million towards building an electric arc furnace.

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