General Secretary meets Port Talbot steelworkers following bad deal for steel

Community General Secretary Roy Rickhuss CBE will meet with steel union representatives and officials at Port Talbot today (26 September 2023) following the bad deal for steel agreed by the UK Government and Tata Steel on Friday 15 September.

The UK Government’s deal with Tata for £500 million takes an unnecessary electric arc furnace-only approach to decarbonisation, which could cause the loss of 3,000 jobs across Tata Steel UK and have drastic consequences for the wider UK Steel industry and economy.

Roy Rickhuss is expected to reaffirm Community’s support for the steelworkers, and that Community will do all it can to stop this bad deal. He will listen to the concerns of union members, and work with them to develop the union’s next steps to ensure that steelworkers in the UK get the deal they deserve which protects jobs, protects the economy and protects the planet.

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

“We’ve seen a lot of back and forth in the media over the past few weeks, but it is important to listen to the people who really matter, and that’s the workers whose jobs are under threat by this bad deal for steel.

“An electric arc furnace-only model is an attempt to do decarbonisation on the cheap and it shows. Only this Government could spend £500 million to make our steel industry less competitive, our economy weaker, and potentially remove 3,000 jobs from areas that need them the most.

“The steelworkers of Port Talbot know this is a bad deal and better alternatives are out there. Community Union is led by its members, and we will be working with them every step of the way to oppose the UK Government and Tata Steel’s bad deal.”

Further information

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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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