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Climate activists join eve-of-action rally at Tata Steel

STEELWORKERS will start industrial action in Wales tomorrow as Unite members in Tata Steel sites in Port Talbot and Newport Llanwern ban overtime and begin working to rule.

The action — by 1,500 steelworkers  — is the first within the UK steel industry in 40 years, with Unite claiming that it will severely disrupt and delay Tata’s operations and order book. 

The union promised that strike action would be scheduled if the company did not row back on its plans to close two blast furnaces.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tata’s workers are taking this industrial action because they know the company’s claim that jobs cannot be retained in South Wales during the transition to green steel is a lie. 

“They are standing up and fighting for a better future, one in which Tata’s British business can take full advantage of the coming green steel boom and not be sacrificed to benefit its operations abroad.

“The current government has backed Tata’s disastrous deal for Britain without even getting any job guarantees. But in less than a month, Tata will almost certainly be dealing with a new political reality.”

The Labour Party has asked Tata to delay closing its blast furnaces until after the general election and wait for its £3 billion steel investment fund.

The company’s move to an electronic-arc furnace and closure of the existing furnaces will lead to 2,800 job losses along with thousands more in the supply chain and the local economy.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) and other climate justice groups joined the steelworkers at an eve-of-action rally outside Tata’s Port Talbot plant today to demand justice for the workers and their communities. 

Climate activists and steel workers are demanding a worker-led transition to plan for the future of the workforce, the community and the environment in Port Talbot.

Climate activists had banners reading: “Climate justice for steel workers” and pledged to stand with the steelworkers.

XR Cymru said Tata’s decarbonisation efforts in Port Talbot mean the steel will be produced in India with high emissions and then shipped back, undermining any green benefits in Britain.

Workers from all three steel unions, Unite, Community and GMB, have won ballots for industrial and potential strike action.

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