Miranda Dobson

Tata Steel to cut 900 UK jobs

International manufacturing firm, Tata Steel, has announced that 900 job cuts will be made across its UK sites, including nearly 600 loses in South Wales.

The firm said 155 employees in Yorkshire would lose their jobs, along with 120 in the West Midlands, and 30 in Teesside.

Tata also announced it would be re-starting one of two blast furnaces at its Port Talbort site as part of a £250m investment programme, which will commence in the first quarter of 2013.

The company said the proposals revealed on Friday were part of a bid to improve competition in its UK operations.

Tata Steel has bases in Asia, Africa, Australia, North America and across continental Europe, as well as 14 mining sites in the UK and its headquarters in London.

Steel finishing and processing sites will be restructured to concentrate the companies services at six distribution locations and processing hubs, which will receive £22m of investment and new employment.

This advancement, however, will lead to the closure of 12 sites, while Tata said workers’ shift levels at the Rotherham and Hartlepool sites would be reduced to match demand.

Dr Karl Köhler, Chief Executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: European operations, said: “Today’s proposals are part of a strategy to transform ourselves into an ‘all-weather’ steel producer, capable of succeeding.

“These restructuring proposals will help make our business more successful and sustainable, but the job losses are regrettable and I know this will be a difficult and unsettling time for the employees and their families affected.

“We will be working with our trade unions and government at a national and local level to ensure we provide them with as much assistance and support as possible.”

Tata said it would investigate ways to support local steel communities and would attempt to stimulate new jobs with a £650,000 investment in the affected areas to hopegully generate 70,000 positions.

Dr Köhler added: “We will do everything we can to reduce the impact of the proposals on employees and, where possible, we will look to achieve job losses through voluntary redundancies.”

The General Secretary of the Community trade union and Chair of the trade unions Steel Committee, Michael Leahy, said: “Sadly, these potential job losses are symptomatic of the continuing failure of the Government’s economic policy and yet another reason why we are calling on the British government to take urgent action to stimulate economic growth and help revive the manufacturing sector.

“This announcement comes after a four-year long downturn in the UK and European steel industry, where the fall in UK steel demand has been steeper than in any other major European economy.”

Mr Leahy called for accelerated investment programmes into infrastructure and for community benefit clauses to be put into UK procurement processes to match efforts made for the industry in France and Germany.

Dr Köhler concluded: “The restarting of the Port Talbot furnace will improve our competitiveness and allow us to enjoy the benefits of a modern, state-of-the-art furnace, which, combined with the planned downstream investments, will also enable us to improve customer service.

“Although slightly delayed because of the current market conditions, restarting the furnace will allow us to return to sustainable production levels.”

A consultation period will commence for employees and their representatives at each affected location following Friday’s announcement.

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