Tata Steel threatens to close its UK factory and cut 8,000 jobs
The Indian steel giant wants to reduce its ecological footprint by 2030, but is asking governments for help to make it happen.
Indian steelmaker Tata Steel could close its giant plant of Port Talbot, Wales, if London does not agree to help it up to 1.5 billion pounds (2.3 billion Canadian dollars) to reduce its carbon emissions, raising fears for its thousands of jobs.
We intend to make a transition to a greener steel mill. But this is only possible with financial assistance from the government, Tata Group Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said in statements published Friday in the Financial Times.
The manager explains that the group has been in discussions for two years with the British authorities and hopes to reach an agreement within the next 12 months. Otherwise, it will study steel mill closures.
Tata Steel employs 8,000 people in the UK at around 15 sites, around half of them at this plant, the country's largest steelworks.
This announcement from Tata is shocking and was made without any consultation with the unions, while we have been talking to the company for months, without an agreement having been reached on the roadmap towards decarbonisation, has denounced the Community union in a press release.
However, no steel mill in the world has decarbonized its production without government assistance, acknowledged Peter Hughes, head of the Unite union, in another press release.
The Government must focus on maintaining highly skilled, well-paid steel jobs rather than the Boris Johnson succession campaign that is currently agitating the Tories, the union argues.
Tata aims for its steel activities, which are particularly greenhouse gas emitters, to be carbon neutral by 2050 and wants to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% in the United Kingdom by 2030 and by 40% at its sites in the Netherlands on the same date.
According to the economic daily, Tata plans to close its two blast furnaces in Port Talbot and instead build two electric arc furnaces, which reprocess scrap steel and are less carbon-emitting, which would cost the total 3 billion pounds (4.6 billion Canadian dollars).
The British Department for Business and Energy, asked by AFP, assured engage regularly with Tata, which is an esteemed steel producer and major employer in the UK.
The executive argues that it is already supporting the sector-wide green transition through a £289m (C$446m) industry transformation fund, to which is added over $1 billion (CAD $1.5 billion) to help with energy efficiency, decarbonization, low-emissions infrastructure, and research and development.
Contacted by AFP, Tata Steel did not immediately respond.
Steel demand at half mast during the pandemic had already aroused fears for this factory. Tata Steel had indicated, at the beginning of 2020, that it could not afford to continue to make up its losses.
The previous year, Tata Steel had already decided in its European workforce, announcing including 1,000 job cuts in the United Kingdom.
Pollution generated by steelworks is also increasingly a source of legal difficulties in the face of the climate emergency: Dutch justice thus opened an investigation in February for intentional and illegal pollution caused by Tata Steel in its factory near Amsterdam.