Tata workers announce strike action

First strikes in 40 years aim to stop steel destruction

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Unite workers at Tata have called the first strikes in 40 years at the south Wales plant to stop the destruction of the UKs steel industry.

The historic strikes at Port Talbot were announced as Labour has vowed emergency talks with Tata after the general election.

Around 1,500 Tata workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern will begin all-out indefinite strike action over the company’s plans to cut 2,800 jobs and close its blast furnaces.

The strike action, which begins on 8 July, will severely impact Tata’s UK operations. It is the first time in over 40 years that steel workers in the UK have taken strike action.

The escalation in industrial action comes after the workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, began working to rule and an overtime ban on Tuesday (June 17).

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Tata’s workers are not just fighting for their jobs – they are fighting for the future of their communities and the future of steel in Wales.

“Our members will not standby while this immensely wealthy conglomerate tries to throw Port Talbot and Llanwern on the scrapheap so it can boost its operations abroad. They know South Wales is ideally placed to take advantage of the coming boom in green steel – if the right choices are made.

“The strikes will go on until Tata halts its disastrous plans. Unite is backing Tata’s workers to the hilt in their historic battle to save the Welsh steel industry and give it the bright future it deserves.”

The local community has been fully behind their steel workers since Tata first announced it was shutting down blast furnaces, putting thousands of highlight skills jobs at risk.

In February a Rally for Steel in the town centre brought hundreds of workers and members of the community together to demand a future for steel in Port Talbot and the campaign has been building growing support.

Unite has developed an ambitious Workers’ Plan for Steel that if delivered would make Britain a world leader, and is calling on everyone to Support UK Steel. 

Labour has called for Tata to halt its plans and wait until after the general election to engage in talks with the government, saying there is a ‘better deal to do’. Labour has pledged £3 billion for UK steel if elected next month, a commitment secured by Unite. Labour has also made emergency talks with Tata a priority if it wins the election.

By Keith Hatch