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Tata Steel UK Initiates Legal Action Against Union, Fears Plant Closure, Strike Starting from July 8

Tata Steel UK had initially intended to close one blast furnace by the end of June and the second by September, prompting legal action against the union amid concerns about potential plant closure.

Tata Steel announced on Friday that it is initiating legal proceedings to contest the validity of a strike ballot conducted by a steelworkers’ union. The company also cautioned that its blast furnaces in Port Talbot might need to halt operations due to the impending industrial action.

Originally, Tata Steel had scheduled to close one blast furnace by the end of June and another by September. However, the proposed strike by Unite the Union starting from July 8 could accelerate the closure timeline.

Tata Steel UK Faces Impending Legal Battle Amid Union Strike Threat

Following Unite Union’s unilateral decision to initiate strike action from July 8, Tata Steel UK reluctantly announced its intention to commence legal proceedings challenging the validity of Unite’s strike ballot. The company emphasized that if operational safety during the strike period cannot be assured, it may be compelled to temporarily halt or cease heavy operations, including both blast furnaces, at its Port Talbot facility. Tata Steel acknowledged the potential significant costs and disruptions throughout the supply chain but stressed that ensuring the safety of personnel remains their paramount concern.

Tata Steel UK Urges Union Withdrawal from Strike, Emphasizes Support Package Proposal

The company reiterated its appeal for Unite to retract its plans for industrial action and join Community and GMB unions in considering Tata Steel’s proposed memorandum of understanding. This document outlines a comprehensive plan including substantial employee support, training, and skills enhancement opportunities. Tata Steel acknowledged the significant impact of its restructuring on employees and contractors but reaffirmed its commitment to a fair transition.

Additionally, the company’s spokesperson highlighted their anticipation of a government-backed grant funding agreement crucial to a £1.25 billion investment in low-CO2 steelmaking, aimed at securing Tata Steel’s long-term sustainability in the UK.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham quoated, “fighting for the future of the steel industry” and wants things deferred until after the general election on July 4 as it claims to have secured “serious investment” from the Opposition Labour Party which is leading the pre-election surveys.

“Tata putting out a statement to shut or pause its blast furnaces three months earlier than they intended to is the latest in a long line of threats that won’t deter us. The Unite campaign is not about selling jobs, it’s about securing the long-term future of steel making in this country for thousands of workers in Port Talbot and South Wales,” she said.

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