The steel workers’ union GMB has said there are “well-founded concerns over the future of the steel industry in the UK” after Tata Steel announced the mothballing of its Llanwern mills in Newport.
The union claims that 250 jobs, mostly filled by agency workers, will be lost as a result of the shutdown.
GMB said it would seek a meeting with the prime minister over the job cuts, which come after an announcement earlier in the summer that Tata was set to axe 720 jobs from plants in Rotherham and Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire and Wednesbury in the West Midlands.
“This is more bad news for the steel industry,” said GMB national officer Dave Hulse. “There are genuine and well-founded concerns over the future of the steel industry in the UK.
“GMB will propose that the Trades Unions Steel Committee write to Prime Minister David Cameron requesting a meeting to discuss these concerns over the long term future.
We will see local communities destroyed with mass unemployment while the balance of payment deficit will increase further if we don’t act now and get government support and action.
“Energy intensive industries need access to affordable and secure energy. Government must ensure competitive tariffs for large scale power users so that the push for low carbon does not drive heavy industry out of the UK.
“Unless government acts, what’s left of the steel industry will be at risk.”
Tata said the decision to shut down Llanwern came because of its “need to reduce costs and focus on manufacturing higher-value products”.
It pointed to an investment of £350m in the steel industry in Wales over the last five years, but blamed the increasing use of imported steel for the need to cut costs.
“Surging, and often unfairly traded, imports have combined with a strong pound to create a very challenging business environment,” said Tata’s UK director of strip products Stuart Wilkie. “The changes we have told employees about will reduce our costs and enable us to focus on generating more value from our products, which will improve our competitiveness.
Tata said that its directly employed workforce at Llanwern will be redeployed but that it “will discuss possible impacts with contracting companies which provide services”.