Tata job losses ‘devastating’ for Port Talbot as unions criticise ‘lack of support’ for workers

Unions have accused the UK Government of not doing enough to protect jobs at the UK’s largest steelworks in Port Talbot.

It follows the decision by Tata to close both of its coal powered blast furnaces which will result in 2,500 job losses – which is around 75% of the workforce.

This is out of a total of 2,800 jobs that will be cut across the UK in the next three years.

The Indian-owned firm said the closure is part of plans to transition to a greener electric furnace which requires fewer people to operate.

This move was made possible by a £500 million care package from the UK Government which meant Tata could afford to upgrade their furnaces and avoid having to close the plant entirely.

However, Thomas Hoyle of the GMB union has accused the Government of being “asleep at the wheel” following the job losses which will have “devastating consequences”.

He told CJS News: “Where have the conversations been with the Trade Unions? Where have the conversations been with the Welsh Government?”

Gary Smith, the General Secretary of GMB told the BBC:

This deal will have devastating consequences for jobs and workers… It will rip the heart out of the Port Talbot community”.

Gary Smith, General Secretary of GMB

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the government’s position saying it is “absolutely committed” to British steelmaking, but acknowledged it “will be a worrying time for everyone affected”.

The UK Government have said it will support employees in finding a new job by setting aside £100 million to help former workers transition and develop the skills they need to find a new job.

Councillor Rob Jones, leader of the Labour group in Neath Port Talbot, told CJS News this was not enough.

“Tata steel is the lifeblood of Port Talbot and the wider community…£100 million in relation to the scale of the job losses, the infrastructure spends… is like putting a sticking plaster on it. It’s not going to do anything”.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford described the news as “devastating” to both workers and communities throughout South Wales.

He has requested a meeting with the Prime Minister for “urgent discussions”.