Tata Steel has confirmed the loss of 1,050 jobs – 750 at its Port Talbot-based Strip Products UK business, 200 jobs in support functions and a further 100 jobs at steel mills in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.
Chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, Karl Koehler commented: “I know this news will be unsettling for all those affected, but these tough actions are critical in the face of extremely difficult market conditions which are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
“We need the European Commission to accelerate its response to unfairly traded imports and increase the robustness of its actions. Not doing so threatens the future of the entire European steel industry. And while we welcome progress on UK energy costs, the Government must take urgent action to increase the competitiveness of the UK for its vital steel sector. This includes lowering business rates and supporting energy efficiency and anti-dumping cases so we can compete fairly.”
Gareth Stace said: “This is deeply disappointing news and I am very concerned about the future of the plant and the community. This is a site of critical importance to our national industrial infrastructure.
“The job cuts reinforce everything we have been saying about the importance of swift action by all involved to tackle the problems facing our steel industry. We have been dealing for some time with a toxic cocktail of conditions, from Chinese dumping of steel to the high cost of energy, and have warned that a strong and rapid response in the UK and, in Brussels, is required.
“It is clear that Government, the workforce, unions and Tata must work closely together to ensure this important steel making plant has a strong and secure future. Management and employees must demonstrate through investment on the one hand and, a commitment to reduce cost and improve productivity on the other, that the plant has a viable future.
“The whole industry needs to be reassured that ministers and officials – in Westminster and in Cardiff – are doing everything possible to support the future of steel production. The Government’s review of business rates could significantly reduce the multi-million-pound bill the plant has to pay while ministers should also consider offering grants that would help the site improve its long term sustainability. The Government needs to be creative, co-operative and fleet of foot to make sure every possible option for support is considered.”
Emma Watkins, CBI Wales Director: “These job losses are a real setback to the Welsh economy and it’s clear that firms in our steel industry face major global challenges to stay competitive.
“Chinese steel imports look to be having a big impact and it’s important that the European Commission urgently reports back on whether the market has been distorted unfairly by excess market supply.
“Our industrial base can best be supported by developing a long-term industrial strategy, protecting research and development investment to help raise productivity and making energy costs more competitive.
“The Welsh and UK governments must work together, and alongside business, for Wales to thrive by developing new and compelling offers for inward investment and export support.”