STEEL giant Tata is cutting 900 jobs – including 155 in Yorkshire – and closing 12 sites under plans to improve competitiveness, the firm has announced.
Most of the job losses will be in South Wales, including 500 at the Port Talbot plant, although sites in Yorkshire, Teesside and the West Midlands will also be hit.
Unions described it as “devastating” news, especially so close to Christmas, while Unite said it rounded off a week of “jobs carnage” across the UK economy.
A total of 580 jobs will be cut in Wales, 155 in Yorkshire, 120 in the West Midlands and 30 on Teesside.
Sites to close include Tafarnaubach and Cross Keys in South Wales, while shift levels at the company’s Rotherham and Hartlepool plants will be reduced to match production to lower demand for bar products and pipelines.
Tata said demand for steel in Europe had fallen by 25% since 2007 and was forecast to slump by another 10% this year, with construction among the industries cutting back.
The Indian-owned company, which employs 19,000 in its steel business in the UK, said it remained committed to investing in the business to help create long-term stability.
The firm also announced that it will re-start one of two blast furnaces at Port Talbot in the first quarter of next year, later than planned, as part of a £250m investment programme, which will lead to the re-starting of a hot strip mill at Tata’s site in Llanwern, South Wales.
Tata said it was concentrating services at six distribution and processing “hubs”, which would receive £22m of new investment and new employment.
Karl Kohler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “Today’s proposals are part of a strategy to transform ourselves into an all-weather steel producer, capable of succeeding in difficult economic conditions.
“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.
“We will strengthen this work with a further £650,000 to help them create new jobs in affected areas. UK Steel Enterprise has teams in all the affected locations who, for almost four decades, have helped to regenerate local economies and create 70,000 new jobs in the UK.”