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Tata Steel jobs axe is 'devastating' for Port Talbot

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

By Paul Lewis

  • Tata Steel at Port Talbot

  • ‘DEVASTATING BLOW': Steve Redmore

  • CONCERNED: Tony Taylor

Comments (0)

PORT Talbot was today slowly coming to terms with the devastating news that 500 jobs are being scrapped at the town's Tata Steel plant.

Inevitably there will be an impact on the local economy. But at the same time there are reasons to believe yesterday's not entirely unexpected announcement may not be as bleak as it seemed.

"It's bad but it could have been worse," said Neath Port Talbot councillor Tony Taylor, who works at the plant. "It certainly isn't as bad as some people thought it would be.

"Obviously I am concerned for the employees directly affected. Hopefully a lot of the job losses will be achieved through natural wastage, early retirement or voluntary redundancy, and redeployment.

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"The actual number of compulsory redundancies should be minimal, if any."

Given the economic situation, said Mr Taylor, Tata had to take a pragmatic view. "The works has been losing a lot of money over the years but nobody has felt any pain during that time.

"We are in a bad time. But if we are going to rebuild Port Talbot and get it back to where it was, we have to plan for the future in a pragmatic way.

Investing

"Tata is still investing massively in the plant despite the industry being at its lowest ebb.

"We are in a better condition than most other plants in Wales and we will be ready when the upturn comes."

Tata steel yesterday announced proposals it said were aimed at improving the competitiveness of its UK operations so it could perform successfully in changing markets.

Those proposals included restructuring management and administrative functions, leading to the loss of 500 jobs at Tata Steel's Port Talbot-based production hub.

The UK-wide changes, while involving significant investment in some locations, will also lead to a net loss of 900 jobs, including 580 at Port Talbot and its Llanwern sister plant in Newport.

European operations chief Karl Kohler said the proposals were part of a strategy to turn Tata Steel into an "all weather producer" capable of succeeding in difficult situations.

"These restructuring proposals will help make our business more successful and sustainable," he said.

Unsettling

"But the job losses are regrettable and I know this will be a difficult and unsettling time for the employees and their families affected.

"We will be working with our trade unions and government at a national and local level to ensure we provide them with as much assistance and support as possible."

Mr Kohler said Tata subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise would be looking at how it could provide more support to local steel communities and stimulate job creation.

Tata would strengthen this by providing £650,000 to help create new jobs in affected areas.

"We will do everything we can to reduce the impact of the proposals on employees and, where possible, we will look to achieve job losses through voluntary redundancies," said Mr Kohler.

Community general secretary Michael Leahy said: "We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to ensure our principle of no compulsory redundancies is upheld, although we are pleased to see the company has already committed to offering a package of training and support for those affected by these changes.

"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."

Taibach councillor John Rogers echoed that sentiment. "Other countries have helped their steel industries in difficult times but this Westminster Government has done nothing," he said. "The Secretary of State for Wales should start using his influence to get a better deal for the energy supply to Tata."

Mr Rogers described the announcement as very sad news for Port Talbot, especially coming so close to Christmas.

"You have to pay tribute to the workforce and to Tata's excellent management and investment," he added.

"When the situation does improve I know the workforce will rise to the challenge and the community will be backing them."

Aberafan Shopping Centre manager Steve Redmore said: "It's devastating for Port Talbot and it's bound to have an impact on the local economy.

"But that is secondary at the moment. Our immediate thoughts are with the workers affected. It must be terrible for them and their families."

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  • maxmin  |  November 29 2012, 10:10AM

    Neathboy CLM AH Wow that's fascinating information about the 'British Governor General', who would that be exactly and when did he say this and to whom? I see you've added the entire British Empire to things that you hate! Bar to your AH.

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  • maxmin  |  November 29 2012, 10:01AM

    But Neathboy CLM AH, if Redcar was not a viable business proposition why did SSI buy it and then reopen it hiring back some of the workers that were fired by Tata?

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 28 2012, 4:20PM

    On a slightly different note i always find it quite amusing when reading about the British Governor general of India who once famously said he would eat every ton of steel produced in India, thinking them incapable of producing any steel at all. He said this about the founder of Tata. I'd imagine he would have quite a mouthful, especially when they go up to 124 million tons as maxmin has pointed out. As some who hates the British empire almost as much as the Indian's did, i find this quite ironic

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 28 2012, 3:24PM

    maxmin u say So why build a new plant in the Netherlands when you have Redcar? In the Netherlands they make strip, Redcar does not. So that is why they invested there and not in Redcar. And BTW this new plant that you talk about does not exist, there were investing in the plant that they own. Oh why am i bothering to explain to u, as i've said before u can't educate wood. For a start U thought that Tata were increasing production of 124 m tones,ha ha ha. As i've said look up before u start posting, them myself and other might not CU as such a joke. Better still stick to what your good at IE puffing off about your beloved right wing and racist views. The fact at the end of the day is that Redcar closed because it was not making money, it called capitalism. Something U so called navy types would know little about.

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  • maxmin  |  November 28 2012, 2:54PM

    Neathboy CLM AH You really ought to read what I have written. I wrote that Tata bought Redcar then closed it with a loss of 1700 jobs. This is a fact. You then come back with Redcar now being open again, yes I know that but as Tata had sold it it wasn't them that reopened it. At the time Tata was investing in steelworks in the Netherlands they did in fact own Redcar so my comment is valid. What they wanted was to get shot of Redcar get the carbon tax credits and use western money to buy them assets both in Europe and India. You seem to have a problem grasping this simple unfolding of events.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 28 2012, 12:40PM

    maxmin u don't know what u are talking about. It does make me laugh that after i inform u that tata do not own Redcar you suddenly decide to Google and find that it's now owned by SSI. As i said look things up first and then u will not look so foolish lol lol. Perhaps u could now explain your statement "So why build a new plant in the Netherlands when you have Redcar?". Why would Tata not invest in their own plant just because Redcar is owned by someone else. I don't think u get capitalism at all do u ha ha ha. You just simply can't get your head around the fact that firms invest in their own business, irrespective of who their competitors are. U also talk about overcapacity, are u not aware that the demand for steel worldwide is still growing, and why on earth shouldn't there be more steelworks built in India where demand is expected to grow for the next 30 years or more. They are not part of the empire anymore, they will do as they must to meet their requirements, irrespective if steel demand in the UK has fallen BTW i will explain to u how carbon tax credits work. Each company is allocated the tax credits that they require, if you need more then u have to buy them, if you need less then u can sell them. It's called trading, a capitalist idea and a very successful way of doing things.

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  • maxmin  |  November 28 2012, 12:12PM

    No I think my research is fine. Tata bought Redcar in 2007, after they finished a contract in 2009 that was ongoing at the time of the sale Tata got rid of 1700 workers. In 2011 Redcar was purchased by a Thai company SSI, in 2012 the plant was reopened but by SSI not Tata.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 28 2012, 11:23AM

    The other one i find amusing is when maxmin says "So why build a new plant in the Netherlands when you have Redcar?". Firstly they are not building a new steel plant but investing in the one they already own. Secondly what one earth has Redcar got to do with it, Tata don't even own it ha ha ha. It's a bit like saying why are GM investing in Ellesmere Port, when Honda have a plant in Swindon

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 28 2012, 11:17AM

    Yes he's very active, shame he couldn't get his facts right. The one that amused me the most was when he said tata was increasing steel production in India from 53 million tons to over 124 million tons. In fact there are many steel companies in India and between them they intend to increase production to this amount. To think that there would only be one steel company in India just about sums the guy up lol

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  • godisalie  |  November 28 2012, 11:12AM

    Extreme mouth activity today.

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