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Tata Steel workers gear up for strike vote as job cuts loom

Tata Steel Port Talbot steel plant

Steelworkers at Tata Steel are gearing up for a strike, with unions balloting members in response to job losses. 

Community, a leading steelworker union, has formally decided to proceed with a strike vote, while Unite has scheduled its ballot for March 1. 

This move comes as Tata Steel announces emission reduction plans at its Port Talbot facility, risking nearly 2,000 jobs.

Roy Rickhuss, head of Community, said the union was "prepared to fight for our industry".

He said: "Industrial action is always a last resort but Tata's actions mean we now have to prepare for that eventuality.

He said Tata's latest statements show the firm is "determined to impose its devastating proposals", making a "complete mockery of the ongoing consultation process".

"There is still time for Tata to change their position, but as things stand we are heading towards a major industrial dispute.

"We are preparing for that ballot to take place as soon as is practically possible.”

However, Tata's recent proposals, viewed as detrimental by the unions, have escalated the situation towards a significant industrial conflict. 

Rickhuss criticised Tata for undermining the consultation process with their firm stance on the proposals.

Unite, echoing the Community's sentiments, has finalised its ballot plans.

"Tata's plan represented the cheapest option on the table"

General Secretary Sharon Graham said: "Unite will fully support its members during any industrial dispute, with any resources needed, including its multimillion pound strike fund."

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Tata's proposed job cuts total 2,423 across the UK, with 1,929 at the Port Talbot site, which currently employs 3,859 workers. 

The company aims to transition from traditional blast furnaces to greener electric arc furnaces, leading to the phased closure of the plant's facilities starting this year.

Community's National Officer for Steel, Alun Davies, said: "No worker ever relishes the prospect of going on strike" but that workers are "being pushed ever-closer to that option".

"Tata's plan represented the cheapest option on the table and it is bad for jobs, bad for the economy, bad for the environment and bad for national security. We will not accept it," he said.

"We will not stand back and allow our livelihoods, our communities and the UK's steelmaking capacity to be thrown on the scrap heap.”

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