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Tata Port Talbot: 'This is devastating, everyone will be hit'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 26, 2012

Port Talbot steelworks

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A PORT Talbot woman with an enduring connection to the local steelworks has described the loss of 500 Tata jobs there as devastating.

Three generations of Port Talbot resident Belinda Newtown's family have worked at the town's steelworks.

She said local people felt Tata's investment in Port Talbot — a £185 million blast furnace and £53million of energy-saving measures this year — meant the 3,500 staff could enjoy a secure future.

"It is shocking to see that amount of jobs to go, especially so close to Christmas as well," she said.

"Everybody will be affected, even the local paper shop," she said

"It is devastating. We just can't believe it."

Most of the cuts are management and administrative posts and many people fear they will hit the wider area.

Smaller sites in Cross Keys, in Caerphilly county and one near Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, will close.

However, 120 jobs will be created at a new hot strip rolling mill at Llanwern.

Aberavon MP Hywel Francis said despite the news he still believed Tata had long-term faith in its Port Talbot steelworks after it announced plans to restart a blast furnace as part of a £250m investment at the works.

"It is a bitter blow to the local community and further afield as well," Mr Francis said.

"Part of the announcement to be fair to Tata was that they are actually showing their faith in steel-making in Wales and Port Talbot in particular by announcing that they will be igniting the Number 4 blast furnace sometime in the new year.

"That indicates that the long term plans for steel-making locally are still intact."

Job cuts have been on the cards, several workers have said, while Tata pointed out demand for steel in Europe had dropped by 25 per cent since 2007 and was forecast to fall by another 10 per cent this year.

Unions and some politicians have urged the UK Government to do more to protect the UK steel industry.

Unite, Britain's largest union, described the Tata job cuts as carnage. Unite union Wales secretary Andy Richards said the announcement marked a "dark day for Welsh workers and for the steel industry in Wales".

It is understood that the UK-wide Tata announcement will mean there will be a net loss of 900 UK jobs, including 580 at Port Talbot and its Llanwern sister plant in Newport.

The Welsh Government said the cuts were "very disappointing news, and a massive blow to those who will be losing their jobs".

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  • GorsseinonJoe  |  November 26 2012, 4:29PM

    Tata steel will tell anyone that wants to listen that there are approx. 5,500 workers at Port Talbot this includes contractors. The announcement will see about 10% of the workforce being made redundant, the investment wasn't done to save jobs, it was done to improve the production capacity of the site and to be able to reduce the numbers employed. Employees are already being shuffled around the site to fill in where needed, projects are being carried out to keep people employed, once these are completed. The Swansea University professor really earns his money by telling us the obvious, in that people in the area will take a lower wage to get a job.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 26 2012, 3:00PM

    As Harry Truman once said, "It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours". And he said that in 1958, during the boom years!

  • RichardCorso  |  November 26 2012, 2:08PM

    'This is devastating, everyone will be hit' ......residents of Port Talbot are used to businesses cutting back jobs or closing so they will do what they always do and get on with their lives. The "devastation and I cannot believe it" statements are a bit of an over exaggeration.Work and jobs will pick up in the New Year as they did the same time last year and the year before that....this is life in Port Talbot.

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