Indian giant Tata Steel today made a 10-year commitment to a one-billion-pound investment plan as part of its crucial talks with steelworkers’ unions to save thousands of jobs in the UK.
The Indian steel giant has reportedly offered a number of guarantees to its staff at Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales, the UK’s largest steel plant, including a minimum five-year guarantee to keep both furnaces operational at the site.
“We are seeking a positive future for the UK business and during discussions with the trade unions we made substantial assurances to achieve this,” a Tata Steelstatement said.
Details of the deal include a guaranteed, minimum five-year commitment to two blast furnaces, a 10-year 1-billion-pound investment plan to support steel making at Port Talbot, and a consultation on replacing the current British Steel Pension Scheme with a “defined contribution scheme” with maximum contributions of 10 per cent from the company and six per cent from employees.
Speaking after meeting with union representatives, Roy Rickhuss of Community Union said: “Reaching this stage of the process is a credit to the hard work of our members who never gave up the fight to ‘Save Our Steel’.”
Unions had been fighting for maintaining Port Talbot’s two blast furnaces in talks with Tata management.
The Tata Group employs more than 4,000 at Port Talbot alone, and hundreds more at other sites across the UK at Trostre and Shotton, Corby, Hartlepool and at sites in the West Midlands.
On Wednesday, workers at the Port Talbot plant were given the opportunity to approve a rescue plan which is likely to have an effect on other major sites as well.
Central to the rescue plan is the retention of both of Port Talbot’s blast furnaces, which turn iron ore and coke into molten iron.
One was due to stop production in 2018 but unions had been fighting to keep it open.
Earlier this year, Tata Steel had announced that all of its plants across the UK would be put for sale. But in July the sale came to a halt.
Last month the firm signed a”letter of intent”with UK-basedLibertyHouse Group to enter into exclusive negotiations for the potential sale of its Speciality Steels business for an enterprise value of 100 million pounds.