Tata Steel invests in the United Kingdom 'to better serve automotive customers'
- Author: Lila Blake Feb 16, 2017,
Feb 16, 2017, 0:42
Tata Steel today said it has unveiled a new high-tech robotic welding line at its Automotive Service Centre in Wednesfield, West Midlands the largest in the United Kingdom that can weld more than a thousand auto parts every hour.
Tata has agreed, upon a vote in favor of pension reform, to an investment plan for the United Kingdom business, and to job guarantees and a two blast furnace operation at Port Talbot for the next five years.
By agreeing with the deal workers have accepted plans to change the pension terms in return for no compulsory redundancies, that despite Shotton being the profit making jewel in the UK Tata steel asset portfolio.
Under the proposed changes, the British Steel Pension Scheme would close to future accrual, replaced with a defined contribution scheme with maximum contributions of 10% from Tata and 6% from workers.
Unions Community, GMB and Unite, who make up the vast majority of Tata's 10,000 United Kingdom staff, said support for the change was strong, with the yes vote running at between 72.1pc and 75.6pc.
"Steelworkers have taken a tough decision and have shown they are determined to safeguard jobs and secure the long-term future of steelmaking", he said. "Nobody wanted to be in this situation, but as we have always said, it is vital that we now work together to protect the benefits already accrued and prevent the BSPS from free-falling into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF)". Approximately three quarters of votes supported the proposals, which involve saving the Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales.
Tony Brady, national officer for Unite, added the decision had not been taken lightly but it was a necessary step.
However, unions also pointed out the government and company should honour the vote from steelworkers by supporting the industry going forward.
Its members backed the new deal by 72% in favour compared to 28% against, with a turnout on the vote of more than 70%. Tata Steel's United Kingdom workers were under pressure to back a deal that secured jobs and investment because if the company fails, they will face deeper benefit cuts under PPF payout terms.
He added: "We continue to work closely with Tata to implement our significant financial support package in order to maintain steel jobs and production at all the Tata sites in Wales".
"Instead of insulting steelworkers by classing their industry as a "low priority", the government set out as strategy for steel that recognises it as a high priority for investment and innovation".
A United Kingdom government spokesman said the "positive step" was "testament to the commitment of its workforce that they are willing to work so constructively with the owners to secure the future of the plant".
Punter Southall principal Martin Hunter said: "Even if TPR can be convinced that insolvency is inevitable, this route is also likely to require a substantial contribution from Tata Steel or its parent company".
700 people are employed at tata Shotton.