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Job losses loom at the UK’s largest steelworks 

Port Talbot Steelworks

Unions are bracing themselves for potential job cuts, possibly numbering in the thousands, at the largest steelworks in the UK.

Indian conglomerate Tata, which owns the Port Talbot steelworks in South Wales, has been in talks with the government over state aid amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds. 

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This funding would facilitate the conversion of the plant's two coal-fired blast furnaces into electric arc versions.

It’d be capable of operating on zero-carbon electricity sources. 

This shift towards greener steel production is lauded for its environmental benefits.

But it also raises fears of approximately 3,000 job losses, primarily impacting Port Talbot.

Ministers would frame the deal to secure the steel plant's survival.

Port Talbot currently employs half of Tata Steel's 8,000-strong workforce. 

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Last year, Tata warned its UK operations faced jeopardy unless it obtained government support to transition towards less carbon-intensive electric arc furnaces. 

Excluding union representatives from the negotiations surrounding this critical decision has left them dismayed.

Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB national officer, said: “Government intervention in the steel industry is long overdue, but imposing a program without proper worker consultation is unacceptable.

“GMB has urged ministers and Tata Steel to have a longer-term view on the decarbonisation of steel.

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“It is not a just transition if thousands of jobs are sacrificed in the name of short-term environmental gains.

“We wholeheartedly support the move to modernise and decarbonise the industry, in fact we have sought this type of investment for years.

“But ignoring technologies outside of electric arc furnaces will mean tens of thousands of people will lose their livelihoods.”

Alun Davies, national officer for the Community union, said: “There must be a full and meaningful consultation on all the options to decarbonise steelmaking and secure the future of every UK plant.

“Community will do everything within its powers to support our members and protect their jobs.”

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