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Tata Steel workers in UK call first strike in 40 years

Tata Steel workers in Britain are calling their first strike in over 40 years after the Indian steelmaker laid out cost-saving measures that included a mass job cut.

Around 1,500 workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern, Wales, will begin an all-out indefinite strike over the company’s plans to cut 2,800 jobs and close its blast furnaces by the end of September, trade union Unite said in a press release Friday.

The company currently employs more than 8,000 people in the UK, meaning the job cuts would represent over a third of its UK workforce.

Tata had previously proposed to turn around its loss-making UK business by switching to lower-carbon electric arc furnaces. This plan was supported by £500 million ($632 million) in British government subsidies.

The strike action, set to begin on July 8, is expected to severely impact Tata’s UK operations and turnaround plans.

The situation escalated after the workers represented by Unite — the nation’s leading union — began working to rule and an overtime ban earlier this week.

According to the union, the strikes will go on until Tata halts its “disastrous plans.”

In a statement, 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 stand by 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.”

Meanwhile, Tata has urged Unite to suspend the action and return to discussions along with other unions. In April, the company warned that it could withdraw the enhanced redundancy packages on offer if workers went on strike, the BBC reported.

According to a separate BBC report, Labour has already 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”‘.

The party has pledged £3 billion for UK steel if elected next month, a commitment secured by Unite. it has also made emergency talks with Tata a priority if it wins the election.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More