• Saturday, May 25, 2024

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Tatas won’t change stance on job cuts: Gething

The two blast furnaces at Port Talbot plant are due to close by September and the construction of a new electric arc furnace will begin next year

The Tata Steel site in Port Talbot, Wales. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Shajil Kumar

Tata Steel’s firm stand on replacing both blast furnaces at Port Talbot plant with electric furnaces, which could result in job losses, has now triggered a war of words between Wales First Minister Vaughan Gething and the Welsh Conservatives.

Gething, who returned from Mumbai after meeting Tata Steel officials said the steelmaker is not going to change its position on job losses. But added that they may shift their position if there was a ‘different UK government’, BBC reports.

The Welsh Conservatives countered that the Rishi Sunak government had announced a £500 million package for Tata Steel to facilitate the switch to green energy and save jobs, whereas all that the Labour Welsh government has done is make a trip to India.

Tata announced in January the closure of both blast furnaces to transition to green steelmaking could lead to a loss of 2,800 UK jobs.

The two furnaces are due to close by September and the construction of a new electric furnace would begin next year.

Gething said the UK general election, which may happen end of this year or early next year, might be too late for the Tatas to change their plans.

He said he had told Tata officials that the Labour party is most likely to form the government and the capital investment environment in the UK will improve.

Gething said it was his “duty” as first minister to “go out and fight for thousands of jobs”.

Opposition Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said: “While the UK government has put over half a billion pounds on the table to save steel jobs in Port Talbot, the only cash the Labour Welsh Government has spent is on this trip to India.”

Tata chief executive TV Narendran said his meeting with Gething was productive. He pointed out that the new electric arc furnace will help safeguard Britain’s steel sovereignty and reduce CO2 emissions annually by five million tonnes.

Narendran said the severance package and the mental health support offered to the impacted employees was ‘generous’.

Unions adamant

However, the unions are not impressed. The GMB union has called Tata’s offer “state sponsored decimation of a community”.

On Thursday, it was announced that members of the largest steelworkers’ union, Community, had voted for industrial action over the restructuring.

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