Last week, Tata Steel UK announced that they would push ahead with their plan to install a 3mt Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) at Port Talbot resulting in a major production cut and up to 3,000 job losses before 2027. The plan opposed by trade unions was supported by the UK Government who has committed to providing a £500m grant for the transition.

The announcement, which was leaked to the media before trade unions were officially informed, rocked the local community for whom the site provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs. 

IndustriAll Europe laments the loss of thousands of jobs and criticises Tata Steel UK, and the UK Government, for not listening to trade unions. Decarbonisation without deindustrialisation is possible and a revised plan is needed which ensures a Just Transition for workers and steel regions. 

Judith Kirton‐Darling, Acting Joint General Secretary for industriAll Europe, said:

‘’This is terrible news for steel workers, and it is the exact opposite of what we mean by ensuring a Just Transition. The company and the UK government have completely ignored the trade union’s proposals and company announcing their decision to the media before informing workers’ representatives is nothing short of a slap in the face.’’

With a similar announcement made by British Steel, owned by China’s Jingye, to close their blast furnace following the installation of an EAF in 2025, the UK faces being the only G20 country unable to make primary steel. This has raised questions as to the UK’s ability to produce all grades of steel, and in turn, their strategic autonomy. 

Judith Kirton‐Darling, added:

‘’The fact that this short-sighted plan has received support from the UK government is baffling. With manufacturing becoming ever more advanced, now more than ever we need top quality and complex metals to provide high value products from airplanes to electric vehicles. Not only is this decision bad for local workers, it is bad for the competitiveness of UK industry. 

Decarbonisation doesn’t have to mean huge job losses, Tata’s decision to go for the quickest and cheapest option rather than truly investing in decarbonisation and the circular economy is a huge mistake and is terrible way to treat long standing and dedicated steel workers.’’
UK trade unions will now consult with their members on next steps and industriAll Europe stands in solidary with the affected UK workers in demanding a new plan which avoid mass redundancies and ensures a Just Transition for workers and the region.