Unions in UK appeal to Tata Steel ahead of March 29 meeting

Vidya Ram  London | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 21, 2016


One of the largest unions representing Tata Steel workers in the UK has appealed to Tata Steel ahead of its board meeting next week, which could determine the future of the company’s steel works at Port Talbot in Wales.

The union Community called on the British government to join it in pushing for the Tata board to support a turnaround plan for the steel works.

On Monday, the union met with Hans Fischer, the newly appointed head of Tata Steel’s European operations following the resignation of Karl Koehler last month. “Today’s meeting reaffirmed the joint desire of Community and Tata Steel’s UK leadership to save the Port Talbot steelworks,” said Roy Rickhuss, head of Community. The turnaround plan would lead to around 1,000 job losses, but the union said it was “determined to make it work” to save the plant.

“Reports that suggest the Tata board in India will reject this turnaround plan are deeply concerning and Community will be doing all we can to ensure the company do not go down this route,’ added Rickhuss. “The workers at Port Talbot have achieved everything asked of them and deserve the continued support of Tata.”

A number of press reports in the UK over the past couple of days have suggested that the board might not back a two-year turnaround plan brought in earlier this year. The news channel ITV Wales reported that the time scale for the turnaround had been “vastly shortened” rendering it ‘unfeasible.” “It is thought the board meeting next week could recommend closure,” the report said.

Like the rest of Europe’s steel industry Tata Steel’s European operations have been under immense pressure from the combination of a glut of Chinese imports on the European market, a strong pound, and costly levies in the UK. In the past six months the company has shed over 2,000 jobs, including 750 at Port Talbot.

Following the latest reports Tata Steel said that it had invested significantly in its UK operations but had been forced to take steps to cut costs in the face of “extremely challenging market conditions.” “This is an absolutely critical time for the UK steel industry. The environment for steel making is not improving and Tata Steel continues to invest considerable amounts into its UK business just to sustain operations.”

Published on March 21, 2016
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