Unite to escalate action against Tata over redundancy pay and furnace closures

Unite to escalate action against Tata over redundancy pay cuts and furnace closures, opposing Labour's steel fund plans. Union vows to support affected workers.
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Unite, the UK’s leading union, is set to escalate industrial action at Port Talbot and Llanwern after Tata threatened to cut redundancy pay. This follows the announcement that Unite members will begin an overtime ban and work to rule later this month.

Tata stated that next month’s general election will not affect its plans to close its blast furnaces. The company said: “Neither the general election nor its outcome has any impact on the timings or our decision to proceed with the winding down of our heavy-end operations (blast furnaces).” Tata has also threatened to “bring forward” the closure of blast furnaces.

This statement challenges the Labour Party, which has pledged a £3 billion investment steel fund to preserve UK steelmaking. Labour leader Keir Starmer said, “I will fight for every single job and fight for the future of steel in Wales.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite and its members will not tolerate Tata’s bully boy tactics and neither should Labour. The union is now preparing to escalate industrial action in direct response to the company’s threats.

“The company is trying to hold the country to ransom, while needlessly throwing thousands of workers on the scrapheap. If Tata is not prepared to do the right thing, then an incoming Labour government must ensure it does.

“Tata’s actions show the fundamental problem with private multinational companies owning the UK’s foundation industries. It has no concern for the long-term economic damage and harm its action will cause in the UK.”

Unite believes the threat to speed up the closure of the blast furnaces is part of Tata’s plan to turn Port Talbot into a satellite site, importing hot rolled coil and slab steel from India and other overseas operations, and labelling it as produced in the UK.

Unite secretary for Wales Peter Hughes said: “Workers will not be blackmailed. Unite never takes a backward step in supporting our members in their fight to preserve their jobs, pay, and conditions, and the workers at Tata have the union’s complete support.”

Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler is Publisher of Workplace Journal

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