London, Nov. 23 (Agencies): Tata Steel today said it would cut 900 jobs and close 12 sites in the UK as part of a major restructuring of its European operations to improve competitiveness.
“The proposed changes are expected to lead to a net loss of 900 jobs in the UK, including 580 in South Wales, 155 in Yorkshire, 120 in the West Midlands and 30 in Teesside,” the steel giant said.
Sites to close include Tafarnaubach and Cross Keys in South Wales, while shift levels at the company’s Rotherham and Hartlepool plants will be reduced to match production to lower demand for bar products and pipelines.
Karl Kohler, CEO of Tata Steel’s European operations said, “Today’s proposals are part of a strategy to transform ourselves into an ‘all-weather’ steel producer, capable of succeeding in difficult economic conditions.
“These restructuring proposals will help make our business more successful and sustainable, but the job losses are regrettable and I know this will be a difficult and unsettling time for the employees and their families affected,” he said.
Kohler said the company would be working with its trade unions and government at the national and local level to ensure maximum possible assistance and support to them.
“Our subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise will be looking at how it can provide more support to local steel communities and stimulate new jobs following today’s announcement,” he said.
“We will strengthen this work with a further £650,000 to help them create jobs in affected areas. UK Steel Enterprise has teams in all the affected locations who, for almost four decades, have helped to regenerate local economies and create 70,000 new jobs in the UK,” Kohler added.
Demand for steel in Europe had fallen 25 per cent since 2007 and was forecast to slump by another 10 per cent this year, the company said.
Tata Steel, which employs 19,000 in its steel business in the UK, said it remained committed to investing in the business to help create long-term stability.
Michael Leahy, general secretary of the Community trade union, said, “This news will be of great concern to many of our members and their families. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to ensure our principle of no compulsory redundancies is upheld, although we are pleased to see the company has already committed to offering a package of training and support for those affected by these changes.”
Tata Steel also said it would restart one of the two blast furnaces in Port Talbot, South Wales, being rebuilt as part of £250-million investment in the first quarter of 2013. It will also lead to the restarting of the hot strip mill at the company’s Llanwern site in Newport, South Wales.