Steelworkers in Wales to Begin All-Out Indefinite Strike over Job Cuts

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Steelworkers in Wales to Begin All-Out Indefinite Strike over Job Cuts

Approximately 1,500 steelworkers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern, Wales, are gearing up for an all-out indefinite strike scheduled to commence from July 8. The move comes as a response to Tata Steel's intentions to shut down two blast furnaces and potentially reduce the workforce by up to 2,800 jobs, a decision announced back in January. This critical development marked a significant shift in the steel industry, triggering the first large-scale industrial action by steelworkers in the UK in over four decades.

The closures of the blast furnaces were part of Tata Steel UK's broader strategy to invest GBP 1.25 billion in transitioning to Electric Arc Furnace technology at its Port Talbot steelworks in Wales. This restructuring initiative was aimed at enhancing operational efficiencies and profitability within the UK business, which had been facing considerable financial challenges. Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham emphasized the profound impact of this strike, highlighting that workers are not solely fighting to protect their jobs but are also advocating for the sustainability of their communities and the steel industry in Wales.

In response to the impending strike, Tata Steel expressed disappointment and urged the union to reconsider its decision to proceed with industrial action. Despite the company's efforts to engage in extensive discussions with UK trade unions over several months regarding the transformation plans, the steelworkers remained resolute in their stance against the proposed job cuts and furnace closures. Tata Steel remained optimistic about the future prospects of its UK operations, envisioning a transition to Electric Arc Furnace technology to meet the growing demand for high-quality, low-CO2 steels both in the domestic and international markets.