Rallies for steel in Newport and Port Talbot

Today steelworkers marched in Port Talbot and Llanwern in a show of support for our industry – and to oppose the bad deal for steel proposed by Tata and the UK Government.

Community General Secretary Roy Rickhuss said:

“Today showed that Port Talbot, Newport and South Wales – steelworkers, politicians, local businesses and community groups – are united in opposing Tata’s bad deal for steel, which would be disastrous not just for communities here which have been built on steel, but for the UK as a whole. Make no mistake about it, what the company are proposing is bad for jobs, bad for our economy, bad for our environment and bad for national security. As the steelworkers’ union, we’ll do everything we can in our power to stand up against Tata and the UK Government’s plan, including the last resort of industrial action as we set out yesterday.

“This could all be avoided if the company showed some willingness to get back around the table, and to look again at the credible Multi Union Plan which is supported by industry experts, the Labour Party and MSs across the political divide in the Senedd. It sets out a pathway to decarbonise our industry in a just, sustainable way – not just opting for the cheapest option on the table and offshoring carbon emissions as the Tata plan does. It also avoids compulsory redundancies, and ensures the UK keeps its primary steelmaking capacity which, in an increasingly uncertain world, has never been more important.”

“Today’s rallies in Port Talbot and Newport showed that the people of South Wales value and support our steelworkers. Now we need the government and Tata to show the same commitment before it is too late. There is so much at stake here, and the weeks and months ahead are absolutely critical for our industry, our steel communities, and the country as a whole. We need our steel.”

Alan Coombs, Chair of the Multi-Union Committee at Port Talbot steelworks, said:

“Steelworkers at Port Talbot are proud of our industry, and we are proud of our community which has come out in such a strong show of support for us today. These are uncertain times, and many of us are anxious about what lies ahead for Port Talbot. One thing is certain though – steelworkers will fight tooth and nail for the future of our industry and our livelihoods.

“And when we fight, it isn’t just for workers like myself who have enjoyed long careers at the works: we are thinking just as much about the many apprentices and young workers who are just starting out on their own path and learning a skilled trade in a sector which should be at the cutting edge of innovation. Tata’s half-baked plan is taking away their futures, and completely undermining the future of an industry which will be absolutely essential if we want to transition to a greener economy.

“Today was a reminder to the company that we won’t stand for it, and neither will our steel communities. This is just the beginning for us, and all options are on the table going forward as set out by Community steel reps yesterday. Tata need to change course now and get behind the Multi-Union Plan to save our industry before it is too late.”

Reg Gutteridge, Community Vice-President and Chair of the Multi-Union Committee at Llanwern steelworks, said:

“Wherever you go in Gwent you will meet someone with a connection to the steel industry – from those who worked or had loved ones employed at sites like Pontymister, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar or Orb which are sadly no longer with us, or those with a connection to the proud workforce at Llanwern today. Llanwern has always been a hub for skilled and well-paid local employment in our area, and is still at the cutting edge of steel technology.

“For example our Zodiac line is one of the best processors of high-quality automotive steel anywhere in the world. Under Tata’s bad deal for steel, the Zodiac line – and ultimately, our entire steel industry – would be reliant on imports from heavy-polluting countries overseas. That shows clearly that the company aren’t thinking about the environment at all. This is all about cutting costs and opting for the cheapest possible option available to them, and it’s shameful that the Conservative Government are propping up this agenda with taxpayer money.

“Today’s march in Newport was our way of sending a message to Tata and the government – we won’t back down when it comes to protecting our jobs, our industry, and our steel communities. It was great to have so much support and encouragement from the public today, and we know that the people of South Wales will stand with us in these challenging times. We need our steel, and it’s high-time that Tata reconsidered their destructive, discredited plans and backed the Multi-Union Plan.”

Yesterday Community Union reps voted in favour of resolution on intent to ballot fir industrial action. Read more here.

Community is the steelworkers’ union. More steelworkers are members of Community than any other union, and we represent the vast majority of workers impacted by Tata’s decarbonisation plans. 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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