Tata Steel announces major closure which will impact 200 jobs: ‘Massive blow!’

Tata Steel announces major closure which will impact 200 jobs: ‘Massive blow!’

Tata Steel previously confirmed 2,800 job losses

Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 19/03/2024

- 09:08

Updated: 19/03/2024

- 11:56

Coke ovens at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant will be shut down which has provoked the ire of unions

Tata Steel has made a decision which will impact 200 of its employees and has been referred to as a “massive blow” for a local community’s economy in South Wales.

Yesterday, the company announced it has been forced to close coke ovens in Port Talbot earlier than planned because the sites can no longer be operated safely.

Through coke ovens, coal is turned into coke which is a raw material issued in the manufacturing of steel.

So far, the steel group has about 40 coke ovens with many having already closed down since they started running in 1981.

In January, Tata Steel confirmed it would shut down blast furnaces in Port Talbot, South Wales, which with more than 3,000 jobs expected to be cut.

As part of its plans, the company’s two high-emission blast furnaces will be shut down, on top of the coke ovens where closures were due to begin from July.

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Tata Steel and Port Talbot plan

Tata Steel has announced a major closure


However, Tata has claimed it has been pushed to cease operations earlier in light of a “significantly deteriorating stability”.

The 200 employees currently working at the Port Talbot coke ovens will be impacted by this decision-making.

However, it understood that there will be no immediate redundancies and Tata Steel is looking to redeploy those affected elsewhere in the business.

After the coke ovens are shut down, the company will have to purchase all the coke it needs to make steel.

Rajesh Nair, Tata Steel UK’s chief executive, explained why the company has been forced to take action earlier than expected.

He said: “The performance of the coke ovens has been deteriorating over many months, despite some herculean efforts by the teams there.

“The condition of the ovens has now worsened to a level making continued operation untenable.

“We will now begin the process of safely closing and purging the coke ovens, and ceasing operations at the adjoining by-products plant.”

According to the chief executive, he has been “struck by the spirit and camaraderie” of the employees at the Port Talbot site who have had to operate in “difficult circumstances”.

Mr Nair added: “We have been clear in our current restructuring proposals that many of our heavy-end assets in Port Talbot are at their end-of-life capability.

“As part of our efforts to stem our current losses, and given the condition of the assets, we propose to close the heavy end iron and steelmaking assets at Port Talbot within this calendar year in a phased manner.”

Some £1.25billion will be invested by Tata into electric arc furnace technology at the South Wales site.



Some 200 workers will be impacted by the changes


Despite this investment, the decision to close the coke ovens has been described as a “massive blow” to the community.

Alun Davies, the national officer for steel at steelworkers’ union Community, explained: “The early closure of the coke ovens is a massive blow but we knew they have been deteriorating and our number one concern is the safety of our members.

“Tata know the unions will not accept any compulsory redundancies and we are working to conclude negotiations on an enhanced redundancy and retention package.”

Labour MP Jo Stevens, shadow Welsh secretary, said: “This is another difficult day for our Welsh steel industry due to understandable safety concerns. Those workers affected need assurances about their immediate future.

“A UK Labour government will invest in our steel industry to ensure the transition to green steel is fuelled by the skills, talent and ambition of Welsh steelworkers.”

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