Community vows to protect steelworkers from bad deal

Community vows to do whatever it takes to protect UK steelworkers from Tata-UK government bad deal

Community has responded to the announcement made by the UK Government and Tata Steel UK today (15 September 2023) on investment into the Port Talbot site for an electric arc furnace-only steel making model for the steelworks.

The Government and Tata’s approach has been narrow-minded and will be damaging for the economy and UK steelworkers.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, the steelworkers’ union, said:

“Following years of talking about decarbonising Port Talbot, we were given assurances by the leadership of Tata that discussions between them and our Government would be restricted to their financial commitment and policy support, and that any decisions on the application of low-carbon steelmaking technology would be made in full partnership with us. It now seems that Tata and the Government are intent on building a future based on an Electric Arc Furnace-only steelmaking model.

“The constant leaks around this deal have undermined industrial relations, and worst of all have left our members worrying about the future of their jobs on the basis of hearsay and rumours. This is unacceptable, and should not be the way that companies or the Government do their business. Unions should have had a seat at the table throughout this process, as it is clear the interests of the workforce have not been considered in the rush to sign off a deal to do decarbonisation on the cheap.

“An electric arc furnace-only approach is short sighted, undermines the integrity of our industry and comes at the expense of our steelworkers. It would make us extremely exposed to the price and availability of steel scrap, and risks Britain’s economic security by making British steelmaking reliant on imports of virgin steel and steel in imported goods.

“Tata and the Government have gone for short-term savings over the long-term welfare of our members and the security of our economy. Community will do whatever it takes to protect the interests of our members.”

Assistant General Secretary Alasdair McDiarmid added:

“Today’s announcement confirms our fears that Tata Steel intends to move to an electric arc furnace model for steel production at Port Talbot.

“Community is absolutely clear that we do not believe this is the right strategy for our economy or our industry.

“Putting all our eggs in the electric arc basket will come at the cost of thousands of jobs, our economic security, and the independence of our industry.

“Tata and the Government should have consulted with the unions well in advance of the announcement, and their failure to do so has put unnecessary worry on the workers at Port Talbot.

“We will do everything in our power to protect our industry and our members from the implications of today’s misguided decarbonisation on the cheap announcement.”

Further information

Why an electric arc furnace-only approach is the wrong approach:

If we have an electric arc-only model, we will have to import the virgin steel we need to supplement scrap steel in the furnaces – so our industry will no longer be self-sufficient.

Currently it is not technologically possible to make the substrate for tinplate via the electric arc furnace route. This means that switching to an electric arc furnace-only model would mean the likely closure of the Trostre tinplate works in Llanelli at a cost of more than 700 jobs.

It is also not possible to make some high-end automotive steels using electric arc furnaces, which again threatens jobs, particularly at the Llanwern works. A red line for the unions has always been that the future for all downstream plants must be secured as part of any transition.


Community is the steelworkers’ union. More steelworkers are members of Community than any other union. We have a history dating back over a century, representing members and campaigning to protect Britain’s steel industry. We are a modern trade union, campaigning for a better working world.

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