A union representing workers at Tata Steel’s plants in Port Talbot and Llanwern have voted in favour of strike action. Tata plans to replace Port talbot’s blast furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces with an EAF as part of a long term plan to decarbonise and modernise the plant. However, this could cause the loss of some 3,000 jobs, Kallanish notes.

The Unite trade union now intend to announce strike dates shortly, designed for maximum impact. The Community union, which has members mainly at the hot end of the steelworks, has begun balloting its members on strike action. 

Tata Steel plans to commission a 3 million tonne/year EAF at Port Talbot in 2027. However, it plans to shut down its blast furnaces by the end of this year. The coke ovens at the site were shut down ahead of schedule at the end of March. In the intervening period, steel feedstock for the rolling mills will be shipped from Tata Steel’s plants in the Netherlands and India.

Unite Wales regional secretary Peter Hughs said his members “will not be intimidated into standing by while Tata attempts to carry out an act of devastating industrial vandalism against their jobs and communities, inflicting untold harm on the Welsh economy and the UK’s national interest."

Tata Steel says: “Our ambition remains to move forward at pace with a just transition, and to become the centre of a future green sustainable industrial ecosystem in the UK."

Unions had proposed an alternative plan, which would see an EAF built while at least one blast furnace remains operational. They note that this is happening at other European plants where a transition to EAF steelmaking is happening. Many of these projects include captive DRI plants. Tata has rejected this model for Port Talbot however.