Tata Steel UK announced it would cut 1,050 jobs at its steel mills in its efforts to improve cost- competitiveness of its business, which had been hit badly by a flood of cheap imports, particularly from China.
It said 750 jobs will be cut at its Port Talbot-based Strip Products UK business, 200 jobs in support functions and a further 100 jobs at steel mills in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.
A full consultation process with employee representatives will begin immediately.
“I know this news will be unsettling for all those affected, but these tough actions are critical in the face of extremely difficult market conditions which are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, said Karl Koehler, Chief Executive of Tata Steel’s European operations.
He urged the European Commission to accelerate its response to unfairly traded imports and increase the robustness of its actions. “Not doing so threatens the future of the entire European steel industry. And while we welcome progress on UK energy costs, the Government must take urgent action to increase the competitiveness of the UK for its vital steel sector. This includes lowering business rates and supporting energy efficiency and anti-dumping cases so we can compete fairly,” he said.
Tata steel UK is an indirect subsidairy of Indian steel giant Tata Steel, which has invested £1.5 billion in its UK operations.
“We now need all stakeholders to do their utmost to meet the unprecedented challenges the steel sector is facing,” Koehler said in a statement.
Stuart Wilkie, Director of Strip Products UK, said: “We have to accelerate the changes we announced last August, by lowering our costs at the same time as focusing on manufacturing higher-value products. These are urgent steps needed to give this business a chance of survival.
He said the company will work closely with affected employees and their trade union representatives. “Retaining the right skills for the future will be critical, but we will look to minimise employee hardship and redeploy employees where possible.”
Tata Steel’s regeneration arm UK Steel Enterprise will look at how it can provide more support to the local communities affected by the announcement and help stimulate new job creation in those areas.
Over the last four decades the company has helped to regenerate local economies, including South Wales, with £88 million of support and created more than 75,000 new jobs across the UK, the statement said.
Union and community leaders have criticised the UK government of holding back from supporting the nation’s beleaguered steel industry, saying the job cuts were no reflection of the skills and commitment of the workforce. They said the government had done little to ensure that the industry did well and jobs were not lost.