The steel trade unions cautiously welcome this news and recognise the industrial logic of such a partnership.
This would create the second biggest steel business in Europe which could deliver significant benefits for the UK.
As always, the devil will be in the detail and we are seeking further assurances on jobs, investment and future production across the UK operations.
As a priority, we will be pressing Tata to demonstrate their long term commitment to steelmaking in the UK by confirming they will invest in the reline of Port Talbot’s Blast Furnace No.5.
We must also be assured that ThyssenKrupp’s pension liabilities will be ring-fenced with a cast-iron guarantee that UK steelworkers will never fund German pensions.
We are now seeking an urgent meeting with Tata to fully understand their intentions for the UK in the context of the joint venture.
We are also making arrangements to bring together senior representatives from across the UK to determine our approach to this significant new development."
Tata Steel is presenting its full range of high quality packaging steels plus an exciting range of new product developments at Metpack this year, leading the way with Protact® laminated steel for three-piece cans.
Already a proven material solution across a number of canmaking applications, including two piece cans, Protact has now been developed for three-piece canmakers. Its multi-layered polymer coating system is designed to free capacity and simplify three-piece canmaking operations. At Metpack, Protact will be presented in a range of colours including clear, black, gold and white, providing even greater creative scope when using metal for food packaging.
High strength steel provides opportunities for downgauging for easy-open ends. A Metpack stand highlight will be Tata Steel’s latest range of nitrogenised steel based products developed to provide greater strength, while still ensuring the easy-open functionality of can ends.
And meeting the latest packaging materials legislation head on, Tata Steel has developed an ECCS replacement product resulting in TCCTTM, a coated steel which, presented for the first time at Metpack, delivers the stringent requirements of REACH legislation.
About Tata Steel’s European operations
Tata Steel is one of Europe's leading steel producers, with steelmaking in the UK and Netherlands, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies high-quality steel products to the most demanding markets, including construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy and aerospace. Tata Steel works with customers to develop new steel products that give them a competitive edge. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world’s largest steel producers, with a steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and 75,000 employees across five continents.
First Minister Carwyn Jones and Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, met with the Chief Executive of TATA Steel UK, Bimlendra Jha, to discuss the future of steel making in Wales.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said:
"Today's meeting with TATA senior management was constructive and we reviewed the important progress that has been made since last March in keeping steel production and steel jobs at all the TATA sites in Wales. The company recognise the significant financial support package made available by the Welsh Government is critical to ensuring the plants become more efficient and sustain employment and keeping all options on the table.
"I made it very clear to TATA that they now have an important responsibility to explain in full the amendments to the pensions scheme to everybody involved. It is then important that we let the ballot take place, without political interference, and let members vote on the changes that have been agreed.”
Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates said:
"We continue to work closely with TATA to ensure that Wales has a sustainable steel industry for the future. We continue to make good progress on improving the energy efficiency of the industry, its supply chain and the skills base of the sector, with significant financial support provided by the Welsh Government to help drive innovation and modernisation in the industry.
"We will continue this work in the coming weeks and months to help build a viable future for steel in Wales and maintain steel jobs and steel production at all the TATA sites across the country.”
New deal a step forward but there is still much work to be done according to union
Steel unions have just secured a commitment from Tata Steel to secure the future of jobs and production at Port Talbot and other steelworks across the UK.
This proposal comes eight months after Tata announced their original intention to sell their UK steel assets.
For the past year, steel unions have run a high profile ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign which has engaged tens of thousands of people in steel communities across the country.
Senior union reps from every affected steelworks in the UK met with Tata Steel executives in Port Talbot today to discuss the latest proposal.
Full details of the proposal will be communicated directly to members, but the significant elements are:
• Production - A guaranteed minimum five year commitment to two blast furnace steel making, with a further commitment to reinvest in Blast Furnace 5 as part of a Capex investment plan.
• Jobs - A jobs pact equivalent to Tata’s agreement with steelworkers at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands, which includes a commitment to seek to avoid any compulsory redundancies for five years.
• Investment - A comprehensive ten year £1bn investment plan to support steel making at Port Talbot and secure the future of the downstream sites.
• Pension – Tata Steel will begin a consultation on the closure of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) to future accrual, replacing it with a defined contribution scheme with maximum contributions of 10% from the company and 6% from employees.
These significant commitments on production, jobs and investment are welcome, however the move to close the BSPS will clearly of serious concern to all members.
After a detailed discussion, union reps have agreed to ballot all members on the proposal in the new year.
This proposal represents a significant shift in Tata’s opening offer which included no detailed investment plan, no jobs guarantee, no commitment to two blast furnaces, and the closure of the BSPS with a new pension scheme with contributions of only 3% from the company and 3% from employees.
Dave Hulse, GMB National Officer, said:
“This agreement would mean the blast furnaces at Port Talbot keep making steel and that steelworks across the UK get the investment they need to compete in the future. We've fought hard to save jobs and today's agreement is a credit to our members.
“Today's news is a step forward, but there is still much to be done. We will continue to fight for a level playing field for our industry; for action on energy costs, on business rates, and on the dumping of foreign steel.”
Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
“The past year has been incredibly difficult for steelworkers and their families.
"When Tata announced in March that they planned to sell the steelworks, no one knew if they would have a job by Christmas.
"This proposal would secure jobs for years to come and bring serious investment not just to Port Talbot but to steelworks across the UK.
“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’ – it was their jobs on the line and it has been their campaign that has brought Tata to this position.
“This is not the end of the process and it will be for all our members to now vote on this proposal. We will continue to work closely with Tata and all levels of government as we seek to build a sustainable future for Britain’s steel industry.
“We recognise that today’s announcement does not cover the Speciality Steels business in South Yorkshire or the SAW mills in Hartlepool.
"We will continue to work hard with the companies involved to secure the investment necessary to ensure those businesses grow and that our members are protected.”
Tony Brady, Unite National Officer, said:
“Today’s news it a step in the right direction for our industry but there is still a lot more that government can and must do.
"The Tories say they are committed to an industrial strategy, but steelworkers need more than warm words.
“The commitments made today by our reps must now be followed by a commitment from the government that they will hold Tata to their word and ensure jobs are protected.
"The UK steel industry supports our whole manufacturing sector and it is vitally important that the future of that industry is secured for generations to come.”