Steel-making communities in the UK have been dealt another huge blow after Tata announced more than 1,000 job losses, worsening the crisis in the industry.
Tata Steel confirmed that most of the jobs will go at the huge plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, where 750 posts will be cut, although service firms and contractors will also be affected.
However, Tata remained in ongoing negotiations yesterday with a potential buyer that has confirmed its interest in taking over two mothballed steel plants in Lanarkshire.
International metals business Liberty House has expressed interest in buying the Dalzell and Clydebride sites, which Tata intends to close.
Tata blamed a combination of high energy costs and competition from cheap Chinese imports for its decision to end production at its Clydebridge plant in Cambuslang, where 65 jobs are going, and its Dalzell plate-rolling works in Motherwell, which could lose 225 staff.
Labour MSP James Kelly, a member of the steel task force, which was launched to attempt to save the closure threatened plants, called on Scottish ministers to step up attempts to protect jobs.
He said: “Now more than ever the SNP government need to ensure that the assets and jobs at Clydebridge and Dalzell are protected so we can keep these high skilled industries in Lanarkshire.”
Scotland’s business minister Fergus Ewing, responding to the UK job loss announcement, said: “The Scottish steel taskforce is doing everything possible to attract an alternative operator for the steel plants in Scotland.
“We recognise the difficulties the industry is facing across the UK and our thoughts are with those affected by the latest redundancies.”
Meanwhile, Tata confirmed that other factories will also be hit, with 200 in support functions and 100 at steel mills, affecting Llanwern, Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.
Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “I know this news will be unsettling for all those affected, but these tough actions are critical in the face of extremely difficult market conditions which are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Roy Rickhuss, leader of the Community trade union that represents steelworkers, said: “Today’s announcement is no reflection of the skills and commitment of the Tata Steel workforce, which has been breaking production records over the past year.
“Rather, it is yet another chapter of the UK’s ongoing steel crisis.”