Unions to discuss deal to protect thousands of steelworkers' jobs

Details of the deal include a guaranteed, minimum five-year commitment to two blast furnaces, a 10-year 1-billion-pound investment plan to support steel making at Port Talbot, and a consultation on replacing the current British Steel Pension Scheme with a "defined contribution scheme" with maximum contributions of 10 per cent from the company and six per cent from employees.

"Among those challenges, there is the need to develop a more sustainable business in the United Kingdom as well as a self-sustaining future for the British Steel Pension Scheme", he said.

Earlier this year, Tata Steel announced all of its plants across the United Kingdom would be put for sale.

Over 4,000 jobs that were at risk at a steel plant in Port Talbot, Wales, have been secured after unions got a commitment from multinational Tata Steel to keep production there.

Chatterjee added that Tata Steel UK has developed a long-term investment plan to make the business more competitive in the future.

Tata put its European long products division up for sale as it refocussed on strip steel, in the face of a collapsing market.

The announcement Wednesday that Tata would keep two blast furnaces operating for five years came after union leaders met for much of the day.

Tata's initial decision to exit the United Kingdom steel sector came as the industry buckled under pressure from cheap Chinese imports.

Unions will ballot on the plan in January.

The agreement is also thought to include an easing of the terms of the £14bn British Steel Pension Fund, which has proved a millstone.

Still worries over the company's pensions and merger plan remain. We need the Welsh government and the Westminster government to step up and produce promises now.

Tata said last week said had signed a "letter of intent" on the sale of its speciality steels operation, employing 1,700 people, for £100m to Liberty House - the company that previously rescued Tata steel works in Scotland.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "We welcome today's agreement between Tata and the trade unions to present a proposal to the workforce".

"The Government will continue to work with all parties in achieving this shared goal".

  • Anthony Vega