Wales First Minister holds meeting with Tata Steel on likely job losses at Port Talbot plant

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Wales First Minister Vaughan Gething on Friday said he held a “candid meeting” with Tata Steel on the issue of expected job losses at the company’s Port Talbot plant in South Welsh. The First Minister, who is on a visit to India as part of the trade mission, also expressed hope that the Indian steel major, which has a “positive reputation”, would take the same approach for the workers at the Welsh plant. Last month, Tata Steel announced to proceed ahead with its plans to close down the two furnaces at the plant and replace them with electric furnaces as part of its plans to go green in steel manufacturing.

The proposed move could affect some 2,500 jobs in the next 18 months. But trade unions have opposed the move, and some 1,500 workers have reportedly voted in favour of an industrial action.

“…Today was a candid meeting, and I’m looking forward to what I expect will be a further conversation between the company (Tata Steel) and trade unions over the coming few days as well.

“…Tata group has a positive reputation …as it looks to care for its workforce, I’m hoping that same approach will be taken for Welsh workers as well. Who are a loyal and skilled workforce,” Gething told reporters in Mumbai.

“…obviously one of the biggest issues is the future of the workplace. You know, I’ve got thousands of people I am responsible for our employee,” he noted. Tata Steel, in a statement, said it had a productive discussion with the First Minister of Wales about progressing our plans to secure the future of steelmaking in South Wales. Tata Steel CEO and MD TV Narendran said the company’s position remains that it is committed to the green transition of the UK steel industry and its electric arc furnace at Port Talbot.

Gething said he is expecting that there will be another round of talks between Tata and the trade unions in Port Talbot.

The minister said that while he is not part of the negotiations between the company and the trade unions, “obviously the outcome of their negotiations is a key issue for me and what my government is enabled to do, to support the company and indeed the workers as well”.

“I would like to see a future where Tatas continue to invest in the steel sector in Wales and the thousands of loyal and highly skilled workers, who are there,” Gething added.

The First Minister’s visit is aimed at deepening ties with the country.

“We understand the difficulties that our people are facing and are doing our utmost to provide holistic support, including mental health. We are offering the most generous financial support package ever offered to outgoing employees. Additionally, we are committed to providing support with job searches, training, and upskilling activities, and we have committed 20 million pound to the Transition Board,” Narendran said.

Tata Steel said it has always been a responsible, long-term, and patient investor in its UK business and is committing significant additional capital to ensure that it can create an operationally, financially, and environmentally sustainable business for the future.

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