Port Talbot, the UK’s biggest steelworks, has restarted its blast furnace number 5, following the completion of a major project to extend its operational life.
Work began last year, with the furnace being drained ahead of vital engineering work which should extend its life by five to seven years. Community has been calling for these critical repairs for several years and secured them as part of negotiations last year.
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, the steelworkers’ union, said:
“Community’s members led the campaign to extend the life of this blast furnace, which offers the chance to secure steelmaking in Port Talbot for a generation. During last year’s negotiations on the future of the company, this was one of our key demands, and we are pleased to see it being delivered today.
“The steelworks in Port Talbot, and all the other sites across the country, are vital industrial assets which governments, as well as businesses, have a responsibility to protect. I was pleased that Mark Drakeford, the new First Minister of Wales, visited the steelworks today and I hope Community can work in partnership with his administration to support steelworkers in the coming years.”
“The blast furnace repairs are critical to this business, but there remains other strategic investments necessary in order to deliver the high value products which today’s competitive global market demands. Community will continue our campaign to ensure a prosperous sustainable future for steelmaking in this country.”