The steelworkers’ union is set to initiate industrial action involving approximately 1,500 Tata Steel employees stationed at Port Talbot and Newport Llanwern in Wales. This protest stems from the Mumbai-based company’s decision to cut jobs linked to the closure of aging blast furnaces.

Unite the Union declared that its members will enforce a work-to-rule strategy and participate in an ongoing ban on overtime starting June 18. Their objective is to significantly disrupt and delay Tata Steel’s operations and order book unless the company reverses its closure plans. The union advocates for Tata to suspend its actions until after the July 4 General Election, anticipating a potential change in government leadership from the Conservative Party to the Labour Party.

Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, criticized Tata’s current deal with the government, expressing concerns that it would prioritize the company’s overseas operations over the interests of South Wales. She emphasized Labour’s push for Tata to await the GBP 3 billion UK Steel Investment Fund, secured by Unite.

Tata Steel expressed disappointment over the union’s decision and reiterated concerns regarding the ballot process’s fairness. A company spokesperson stated that they had notified Unite twice during the ballot process about significant irregularities.

This development follows Tata Steel’s April announcement to close two old blast furnaces as part of a GBP 1.25 billion investment aimed at transitioning to a state-of-the-art Electric Arc Furnace at the Port Talbot steelworks. Tata claims to have engaged in seven months of discussions with UK trade unions about the transformation, which aims to preserve 5,000 jobs, secure future steel supplies, create indirect employment opportunities in engineering and construction, and reduce CO2 emissions by 5 million tonnes annually.

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