Around 3,000 workers at Britain’s biggest steelworks face the prospect of losing their jobs as part of a government-backed package to make the plant “greener.”
ByThe Associated Press
September 15, 2023, 7:33 AM
LONDON — Around 3,000 workers at Britain’s biggest steelworks face the prospect of losing their jobs as part of a government-backed package Friday to make the plant “greener.”
In an announcement, the British government confirmed widespread speculation that it is to pump up to 500 million pounds ($620 million) into the Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales.
Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns the steelworks, will use the funding to help switch the plant’s two coal-fired blast furnaces to electric arc versions that can run on zero-carbon electricity.
“This proposal is a landmark moment for maintaining ongoing U.K. steel production, supporting sustainable economic growth, cutting emissions and creating green jobs,” said Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt.
Tata, which employs around 8,000 people across the U.K., will also invest around 750 million pounds into the project, but cautioned that the plans will lead to consultations over a “deep potential restructuring” — code for job losses.
In a separate statement, Britain’s Department for Business and Trade said the deal will only safeguard around 5,000 jobs out of Tata’s total workforce.
Unions were furious about the potential job losses.
“The cost to local people and the wider Port Talbot community will be immense,” said Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB trade union. “Once again, we have the spectacle of leaders talking up the fantasy land of a ‘just transition’ while the bitter reality for workers is them getting the sack.”
The 1.25 billion-pound furnaces are expected to be up and running within three years of getting regulatory and planning approvals.
Tata warned last year that its U.K. operations were under threat unless it secured Government funding to help it move to less carbon-intensive electric arc furnaces.