South West Wales

Port Talbot steelworks future to be discussed by Tata

Port Talbot Steelworks Image copyright PA

The future of the Port Talbot steelworks will be discussed when Tata Steel bosses meet union officials in the coming days, the BBC has been told.

The Community union said it expected to hold talks on the industry generally with the steel company this week.

Union officials said they expected Tata's Port Talbot plant to be "high on the agenda" as concerns grow over potential job losses.

Some 4,000 people are employed at the works, and Tata employs 6,000 in Wales.

It puts £200m a year into the economy in wages.

Tata Steel Europe, which employs 17,000 in the UK, is in the throes of a wide-scale reorganisation of its business, prompted by a slump in the price of steel.

Alan Coombs, the president of the steelworkers' union Community, and chairman of the multi-union group at Port Talbot, told BBC Wales: "Without doubt there'll be restructuring on the cards - that's if we are in a position to restructure.

"There is concern that we are running out of time".

Mr Coombs said the steel industry was changing quite rapidly, and he thought job losses were "inevitable" at Port Talbot - the UK's largest steelworks.

He said there was always a knock-on effect from Port Talbot on other parts of the steel industry in Wales.

Image copyright Reuters

A spokesperson for Community added: "These reports of potential job losses at Port Talbot should serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing steel crisis and the urgent need for government to deliver upon the agreed steps to protect this vital foundation industry.

"We need a level playing field for UK steel makers, especially on issues like business rates and energy costs."

Councillor Tony Taylor, who represents the Aberavon ward in Port Talbot and worked at the steelworks for 44 years before retiring last year, said there had been rumours about potential job losses in the area "for weeks".

"The government needs to help the industry now," he said.

"It's OK for AMs and MPs to talk the talk, but we need to see action before it's too late.

"We have to keep the steel industry going in Britain - it's too important to lose."

There have been waves of job losses in the steel industry in the UK, which the sector has blamed on cheap Chinese imports and a collapse in prices.

In October, Tata Steel announced nearly 1,200 roles were to be axed in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire.

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