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Port Talbot Steelworkers Vote To Strike Over Planned Blast Furnace Closures

Port Talbot steel works

Hundreds of steelworkers in Port Talbot and Newport have voted to strike in response to Tata Steel's plans to close the town's iconic blast furnaces. 

Unite the Union, which announced the ballot results on Thursday, April 11, has not yet set dates for the walkouts. 

This decision marks the first strike action by Port Talbot steelworkers in over four decades.

The closures threaten thousands of jobs in the region, with unions estimating up to 2,800 positions at risk if Tata Steel moves forward with its proposal. 

This would largely impact Port Talbot, where the steel plant's workforce comprises 12 percent of the local population.

Sharon Graham, Unite's general secretary, described the vote as historic and pledged strong union support for the workers. 

She said: "Unite will be at the forefront of the fight to save steelmaking in Wales. We will support steel by all and every means."

The controversy centers on Tata Steel's strategy, introduced in January. 

"We will support steel by all and every means"

It aims to transition to what Tata boss TV Narendran described as a "competitive and greener" method of steel production. 

However, this shift raises substantial concerns about Port Talbot's economic future and its broader impact on the community.

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Unite has pointed to alternative approaches in Europe, where steel plants are moving towards greener technologies without shutting down existing blast furnaces.

For example, Tata's operations in the Netherlands are maintaining their blast furnaces while constructing an electric arc furnace and investing in hydrogen direct reduction of iron (DRI) technology.

Unite Wales regional secretary Peter Hughes said its members would "not be intimidated into standing by."

He added: "Our members have their union's absolute support in striking to stop these cuts - Unite is backing them every step of the way."

The Community union is also conducting a ballot for industrial action among its members at Tata.

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