Union Calls Off Strike Action At Tata Steel UK Plant

Union Calls Off Strike Action At Tata Steel UK Plant

The Union had said they would begin their strike action on July 8, leading to Tata Steel UK challenging the balloting process and also bringing forward a planned closure of blast furnaces.

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, July 02, 2024, 08:16 AM IST
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A steelworkers' union planning to begin industrial action over Tata Steel UK future plans for its Port Talbot plant in Wales on Monday called off their strike, saying further investment talks had been assured.

Unite the Union had said they would begin their strike action on July 8, leading to Tata Steel UK challenging the balloting process and also bringing forward a planned closure of blast furnaces.

The company welcomed Unite's decision against a strike and shelved the early closure plans.

Strike suspended

"We have received written confirmation from Unite Union that, with immediate effect, they are suspending their current action short of a strike as well as the potential strike action due to commence on Monday, July 8," said a Tata Steel spokesperson.

"As a result, and given we can now be confident of ensuring appropriate resourcing of activities to operate safely, we will halt preparations for the early cessation of operations on Blast Furnace 4 and the wider heavy end in Port Talbot, planned for this week. We welcome the fact that we have avoided having to progress down this path," the spokesperson said.

Talks with the unions

The company said the resumption of talks with the unions will now progress and focus on future investments and aspirations for the business, "not on a renegotiation of our existing plan for the heavy-end closure or the enhanced employment support terms".

"The wind-down process for Blast Furnace 5 has now begun, and we expect to produce the final iron at the end of this week," the spokesperson added, with reference to the furnace scheduled for closure this week.

Unite members were striking in protest against job losses and the effects on the local community. Other steel unions have welcomed the news, something Unite said was "essential."

"Workers were simply not prepared to stand idly by while steel making ended and their communities were laid to waste," said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

Reasons behind strike

The Mumbai-headquartered steel major had originally planned to shut down one of the blast furnaces by the end of June and the second one by September. However, Unite the Union's proposed strike on July 8 raised the prospect of the closure being forced earlier.

"We understand the impact of our restructuring will have on many employees and contractors, but we remain committed to a just transition and - pending a government-backed grant funding agreement - to the GBP 1.25 billion investment in low-CO2 steelmaking, which will ensure Tata Steel has a long and sustainable future in the UK," the company said, urging unions to carry on the negotiations.

Graham had claimed it was "fighting for the future of the steel industry" and wanted things deferred until after the general election on July 4, as it claims to have secured "serious investment" from the Opposition Labour Party, which is leading the pre-election surveys.

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