Tata Steel has axed 580 jobs at its Port Talbot-based production hub in South Wales and 320 across the rest of the UK.
The company is closing 12 sites, including Tafarnaubach and Cross Keys in South Wales. Shift levels at the company’s Rotherham and Hartlepool operations will be reduced to match production to lower demand for bar products and pipelines.
The changes are will lead to a loss of 900 jobs in the UK, including 580 in South Wales, 155 in Yorkshire, 120 in the West Midlands and 30 in Teesside.
The announcement comes after a four-year long downturn in the UK and European steel industry, where the fall in UK steel demand has been steeper than in any other major European economy.
Karl Köhler, CEO of Tata Steel’s European operations, called on the UK government to remove “obstacles” to growth in July.
Dr Köhler said that the restructuring proposals will transform the company so that it can cope in difficult economic conditions.
“These restructuring proposals will help make our business more successful and sustainable, but the job losses are regrettable and I know this will be a difficult and unsettling time for the employees,” he said.
Michael Leahy, chair of the trade union Steel Committee, commented: ““Sadly, these potential job losses are symptomatic of the continuing failure of the Government’s economic policy and yet another reason why we are calling on the British government to take urgent action to stimulate economic growth and help revive the manufacturing sector.
“This is why we need faster investment in infrastructure programmes and community benefit clauses in UK procurement just as France and Germany do to support their own manufacturing industry,” added Leahy.
Tata Steel will instead concentrate on six distribution and processing hubs of which it will invest £22m of new to improve the efficiency and quality of its steel finishing and processing sites.
The company has put up £650,000 to help UK Steel Enterprise regenerate local steel communities in affected areas.
Blast Furnace 4 will be restarted in the coming months, part of a five-year improvement programme whereby £250m supported the rebuild and installation of energy-efficient gas recycling at Port Talbot.
Dr Köhler said: “The restarting of the Port Talbot furnace will improve our competitiveness and allow us to enjoy the benefits of a modern, state-of-the-art furnace. Although slightly delayed because of the current market conditions, restarting the furnace will allow us to return to sustainable production levels.”