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Tata Steel UK Workers Overwhelmingly Approve Strike Action

12 Apr 2024 , 08:13 PM

On Thursday, over 1,500 employees of Tata Steel who work at two locations in Wales cast ballots in favor of going on strike against the company's proposal to close its blast furnaces and eliminate 2,800 jobs.

The steel firm with its headquarters in Mumbai expressed its disappointment over the decision to go ahead with strikes, citing "significant irregularities" in the voting process. Consultation is still ongoing.

Unite the Union reported that its employees at the Port Talbot and Newport Llanwern plants had voted against the "disastrous" plans because they disagreed with the strategy, despite the company's assertion that its restructuring plans were necessary to keep the business afloat while it transitions to new electric technology

Tata Steel said, "We are naturally disappointed that, while consultation continues, Unite Union members at Port Talbot and Llanwern have indicated that, should an agreement on a way forward for the business and its employees not be reached, they would be prepared to take industrial action up to and including strike action."

A representative for Unite the Union stated, "We have written to them twice during the ballot process to notify them of significant irregularities in the ballot process they have undertaken."

The company stated that it initiated a formal information exchange and engagement process with trade unions and that this process is still ongoing in an “open, collaborative and constructive fashion” following its announcement in January of plans to spend GBP 1.25 billion and restructure UK business.

Although the UK government's promise of GBP 1.25 billion would guarantee a sustainable future for low-carbon steel production in the country, our present business model is unviable, with daily losses exceeding GBP 1 million. We had to stop producing coke on March 20 because a large portion of our current iron and steel production facility at Port Talbot is nearing the end of its useful life and is unreliable and inefficient. For this reason, this investment is essential.

The Tata Steel representative stated, "We will be able to sustain the business as we transition to new electric arc furnace technology by restructuring our UK operations."

As a foundation for more "resilient UK manufacturing supply chains," the company pointed to a "exciting future ahead" that included producing steel from scrap that already existed in significant quantities in the UK and offering high-quality, low-CO2 steels. Instead of importing iron ore and coal from around the world.

Nevertheless, Unite the Union asserts that the corporation has options, particularly since it has obtained a vow from the Labour Party of opposition to invest GBP 3 billion in UK steel, as opposed to the GBP 500 million that the government led by the Conservative Party had previously promised.

"This vote is historic. Steelworkers haven't voted to go on strike in this manner since the 1980s. Tata threatened to withdraw higher redundancy packages if workers went on strike, but this yes vote nevertheless transpired. Leading the charge in the battle to preserve Welsh steel production will be Unite. "We will do everything in our power to promote steel," stated Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite.

Since a tenfold rise in demand is anticipated in the upcoming years, other EU (European Union) countries are converting their steel industry while maintaining and expanding their capacity.

"In the UK, the government's and Tata's plans show the short-term thinking of a disgruntled and clapped-out government counting down to a general election. However, after serious talks with Unite, Labour has committed GBP 3 billion to UK steel, which is the correct thing to do, she said.

The union stated that dates for the walkout, which is "planned to cause maximum impact," will be revealed shortly.

Peter Hughes, regional secretary of Unite Wales, continued, "Our members have their union's absolute support in striking to stop these cuts – Unite is backing them every step of the way."

For feedback and suggestions, write to us at editorial@iifl.com

Related Tags

  • strike
  • Tata Steel
  • UK
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