Union votes for strike action over Tata job losses

Members of Community union
Community said 85% of its members backed industrial action [PA Media]

Members of the largest steelworkers’ union, Community, have voted in favour of industrial action over Tata Steel’s restructuring plans.

The union said 85% of 3,000 members supported the move.

Workers were balloted after Tata Steel announced 2,800 job losses across the UK as part of the closure of Port Talbot’s blast furnaces and a transition to greener steelmaking.

Tata Steel said it was "disappointed" by the move.

In a message to its membership, Community’s national officer for steel said it had "voted to demand a better deal" from Tata.

The company warned workers would lose the "enhanced" redundancy package that was on offer if they went ahead with industrial action.

"It should be noted this resounding mandate has been delivered in spite of the company’s bullying and unacceptable threats to slash redundancy payments," Mr Davies said.

The union said it would consult members on its next steps.

Mr Davies said he was "urging Tata to reconsider their position and get back around the table” in order to avoid “a major industrial dispute".

Community’s ballot result follows a vote for strike action by Unite.

A third union, GMB, has also run a ballot for industrial action, which closed on Thursday.

Tata Steel site in Port Talbot
Tata Steel plans to close both blast furnaces in Port Talbot by the end of September [PA Media]

The unions have previously discussed coordinating industrial action if their memberships supported the move.

Tata Steel plans to close both blast furnaces in Port Talbot by the end of September. The company said it was losing over £1m a day at the existing operation in south Wales.

A new £1.25bn electric arc furnace, which melts scrap steel, will begin construction in Port Talbot in summer 2025. The UK government is contributing £500m towards its cost.

The UK government said earlier without its support package, including investing in skills and jobs for the workers affected, "many thousands more jobs would have been lost at Port Talbot and in the wider supply chain".

Tata said its current business model was unsustainable and dubbed the UK government's investment "critical".

"By restructuring our UK operations we will be able to sustain the business as we transition to new electric arc furnace technology," a spokesman said.

The firm said its ambition was to "move forward at pace with a just transition".