SPECULATION is mounting that 500 or more jobs could go at steel giant Tata’s Port Talbot works.
Concerned workers have said they are expecting an announcement within days over the future of posts there.
The firm confirmed in March it was asking its 3,500 workforce to stay at home on half pay in an attempt to avoid redundancies and retain skills.
But fears have resurfaced that jobs could now go.
It has further been claimed that a plan is being considered to mothball the number 5 blast furnace when the number 4 blast furnace is started up.
A Tata spokesman would not be drawn as to whether any announce- ment would be made, but said the company was spending more than it was earning as a business.
He scotched suggestions about the number 5 blast furnace and said the company’s plan was to run a dual furnace in the future.
One steelworker, who did not want to be named, said: “We are expecting an official announcement in the next couple of days.
“But from what we are led to believe, there will be around 500 jobs going, both blue collar and white collar, across all departments.”
Another worker, who also did not wish to be named, painted an even gloomier picture.
“I’ve been told that 1,500 Tata workers will be going and contractor jobs will be lost as well,” he said.
“A lot of the posts will be middle management jobs and will mainly be white and blue collar workers.
“I’ve also been told that the plan is to mothball the number 5 blast furnace when the new number 4 blast furnace starts up.”
Tata Steel made a £317 million profit in 2010/11 according to Companies House records.
Steelworker and Neath Port Talbot councillor Tony Taylor revealed there was concern.
He said: “The feeling here is one of concern mixed with incredulity because people are seeing all this massive work going on around the plant.”
Mr Taylor said there were problems not just with the UK steel market but worldwide.
“The fact Tata is still investing more than £200 million here at the bottom of the market means there is a commitment,” he said.
“If there are going to be any job losses then hopefully it’s short-term pain for long-term gain.
“Some steel works are closing but we are still here and I am confident we will still be here in 20 years’ time.”
A Tata spokesman said: “There’s some understandable anxiety.
“We have invested very heavily but have produced fewer volumes of steel.
“We are spending more than we are earning as a business at the moment and that is always hard to take.”
He stressed that number 5 blast furnace had undergone mid-term maintenance in March.