Steelworkers remain uncertain about the future despite government support

At the main roundabout outside Port Talbot steelworks, union representatives and those on their lunch break gathered with a banner: “British Steel – Back It or Lose It!”

Around 4,000 are employed in Tata Steel here is more than 12% of the city’s total population.

One of them is Greg Coggins, who has worked for Tata in South Wales for 14 years.

Wearing a hard hat and dirty overalls – he told me how important this place is to the community.

“Without the steelworks behind us here – there is no Port Talbot,” he said.

“This city, this area, South Wales, depends on this place, not just this place, there are so many jobs… so many jobs.”

He welcomed the government’s £500 million package — but said there is uncertainty among his colleagues about what going green means for their jobs.

“In the midst of a cost of living crisis at the moment, people are worried,” he said.

“There are so many people who work here, it’s not just employees inside, it’s the people who support us, delivery drivers, that would be such a knock-on effect if something were to happen to this facility.”

Barry Evans

The government plan is not as green as it sounds – trade union representative

His union representative, Barrie Evans, said the government’s plan to change coal-burning furnaces to electric ones is not as green as it sounds because other steel would then have to be imported.

“We all understand that we need to decarbonise and go green, but unfortunately at the cost of jobs – we can’t support that,” he said.

“It won’t be green if we import coils from China, halfway around the ocean, on a diesel ship.”

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Why is greener steel such a big problem?

The workers here are well paid, and a lot of that money flows into the town a mile down the road.

On the high street, reporters tried to gauge the reaction to today’s announcement from locals who are all too used to uncertainty behind their biggest employer.

Carol Rock

Concerns about job losses

We met Carol Rock over coffee outside Cafe Fresco – she has lived here all her life and worries about what major job losses would mean.

She said: “It’s important for Port Talbot because it would be like a ghost town, there would be nothing here – just the works we have. Where are they going to get jobs?”

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Her friend Jeanette added: “I think things would close very, very quickly.”

If there were major job losses, I asked. “Yes unfortunately.”

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