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Tata Steel May Shut UK Blast Furnaces Early Amid Worker Strike Over 2,800 Job Losses

Tata Steel Ltd might close its blast furnaces in the UK sooner than planned because some workers are planning an indefinite strike to protest 2,800 job cuts.

Tata Steel, which produces 3 million tonnes of steel each year in the UK, plans to shut one blast furnace at the end of this month and the second one at the end of September.

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“Our current steelmaking equipment is old, unstable, and losing £1 million a day,” Tata Steel said in a statement.

While the plans to close the furnaces and related plants are still on schedule, the company stated that it might have to speed up the closures if the planned strike puts the safety and stability of operations at risk.

This strike, starting on July 8, is the first in four decades in the UK. Around 1,500 workers from Port Talbot and Llanwern in Wales will participate.

“The strikes will continue until Tata stops its harmful plans. Unite fully supports Tata’s workers in their fight to save the Welsh steel industry and secure a bright future,” said Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite.

Tata Steel is shutting down its blast furnaces in the UK to switch to more environmentally friendly electric arc furnaces, a £1.25 billion investment with local government help. This is the largest investment in the UK steel industry in decades and is expected to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by five million tonnes a year, or 1.5% of the country’s total emissions.

“We are very disappointed by Unite’s decision to call for a strike,” Tata Steel said.

Tata Steel employs around 8,000 people in the UK and will offer support to those losing their jobs. The company has also improved its support package to be more generous than ever before.

“Instead of striking, we expected Unite to present our improved offer to its members, as other unions have accepted it,” Tata Steel said.

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