UK steel jobs safe after multinational commits to plants

UK steel jobs safe after multinational commits to plants FILE – This is a Oct. 20, 2015 file photo of a Tata Steel sign. Steel unions said Wednesday Dec. 7, 2015 that they’ve secured a commitment from Tata Steel to keep jobs and production at its Port Talbot plan in Wales. (Anna Gowthorpe/PA via AP) LONDON – A deal between multinational Tata Steel and unions secured some 8,000 jobs across Britain on Wednesday in an agreement that ended months of uncertainty for steelworkers and their families.Tata pledged to keep two blast furnaces operating for five years and to invest in the massive plant in Port Talbot, in south Wales. Compulsory redundancies will be avoided.But pensions remain a sticking point and the unions say the revised pension plan remains “worrying.” The company said the agreement is subject to the pension changes being accepted. It said it would start a consultation next week on a proposal to close the present pension plan and offer a defined contribution scheme.“This proposal would secure jobs for years to come and bring serious investment not just to Port Talbot but to steelworks across the U.K.,” said Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union. “Reaching this stage of the process is a credit to the hard work of our members, who never gave up the fight to ‘Save Our Steel’ — it was their jobs on the line and it has been their campaign that has brought Tata to this position.”The decision safeguards the future of a plant at Port Talbot in south Wales, which alone has some 4,000 jobs. The jobs had been in doubt since March when Tata Steel, based in India, announced plans to sell its U.K. operations.The business was losing 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) a day due to high costs and a glut of cheap Chinese steel in global markets. That raised fears the plant would close if Tata couldn’t find a buyer.Over the summer, Tata announced it was talking to Germany’s Thyssenkrupp about a potential joint venture in Europe and effectively halted the sale of its British businesses. Since then, the plant has become more efficient and market conditions have improved. In particular, the drop in the value of the pound following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June has made Britain relatively cheaper for foreign investors.While the problems of the steel industry may be global, they were distinctly local in Port Talbot, a community of about 45,000 people on a narrow strip of coastal plain abutting green hills. The 200-acre steelworks co-exists beside the rows of houses where generations of workers have lived.The deal will be seen as a victory there — not just for the steelworkers but for thousands of members of the communities around the plants who banded together to create grassroots efforts to persuade Tata to rethink its plans to close its operations.At Port Talbot, for example, union leaders met with dozens of reporters to tell them about their town and plant, underscoring how fundamental steel is to the economy. A Twitter campaign — #steelselfie — asked people to take pictures of themselves with something made of steel.Other campaigns showed off things made with British steel, such as the Sydney Opera House and London’s Olympic Stadium. Actor Michael Sheen, who is from the area, backed a petition to help workers.Professor Dave Worsley, research director at Swansea University’s College of Engineering, said he thinks those efforts made a difference to Tata.“Christmas is just around the corner and this is terrific news to end what has been quite a difficult year,” Worsley said, adding that promises of continued investment will keep the plant operating “for many Christmases to come.”But it’s not over yet. Union members must still vote on the measures and representatives of the leadership said that the government would still need to do its part to help the deal happen.“Today’s news is a step forward, but the underlying challenges of illegal Chinese dumping, uncompetitive energy prices, inadequate procurement policies and the government’s failure to come forward with a proper industrial strategy for steel still remain,” said Stephen Kinnock, a lawmaker for the area.The British government has said it is willing to take a 25 per cent stake in any rescue of Tata.Tata is Britain’s largest steel manufacturer, supplying some 50 per cent of U.K. carmakers’ steel requirements as well as advanced steels for the construction industry.“These are unprecedented times for the steel industry globally with multiple risks including global economic uncertainty, slow manufacturing growth and currency volatility which continues to present significant challenges to the business,” said Koushik Chatterjee, the group executive director for Tata Steel. by Danica Kirka, The Associated Press Posted Dec 7, 2016 9:05 am MDT Last Updated Dec 7, 2016 at 12:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

UK manufacturers thrive in Paris

The opening of the 2014 Paris motor show this week saw the world’s car manufacturers turn out to display their latest products and innovations. Among the cars stealing the show were a number that have been designed, developed and built in the UK.We’ve compiled a rundown of the UK-built stars of the Paris motor show. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Bentley Mulsanne Speed Honda Civic, Civic Type-R, CR-V and Jazz prototype Equipped with a 6.75-litre twin turbo V8, the 530bhp Bentley Mulsanne Speed is the Crewe-based manufacturer’s most powerful saloon ever. The revised power-unit also offers a 13% improvement in efficiency.It takes Bentley’s wealth of highy skilled UK engineers and craftspeople around 400 hours to build each Mulsanne, which Bentley claims is offered with limitless colour and specification options.Also on display was Bentley’s ‘signature’ Mulsanne, as well as the Continental GT V8 S and GT Speed – all of which are designed, developed and produced in Cheshire. Aston Martin V12 Vantage S RoadsterThe Gaydon-built V12 Vantage S Roadster is Aston Martin’s fastest open-top production car ever. It boasts a 565bhp engine capable of propelling the convertible from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 201mph.It was joined by the 2015 model year Rapide S and Vanquish range, which included a new Carbon Black special edition. Aston Martin’s tranche of new models is the product of a £500 million investment programme announced earlier this year. Set to succeed the Land Rover Freelander, the Discovery Sport will go on sale in early 2015, and spearhead a new range of Discovery vehicles in the next few years. The mid-size SUV will be produced at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood facility, which has benefited from a £200 million investment and 250 new jobs to accommodate the latest model.The Discovery Sport boasts a monocoque construction and lightweight aluminium body panels to aid efficiency. It also features 5+2 seating and a pedestrian airbag. Honda showcased revisions to its full range of UK-built cars at Paris. Both the Civic and Civic Tourer have received styling upgrades, with a Civic Sport derivative also joining the range. Technological upgrades include low-speed braking and a new infotainment system.The CR-V was also shown with styling upgrades, a new more powerful 1.6-litre diesel engine and nine-speed automatic transmission.Paris also marked the return of the iconic Civic Type-R hot hatch. Featuring a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine for the first time, the new Type-R develops more than 270bhp. It also features an innovative ‘steer-axis’ front suspension system to minimise torque steer.Finally, Honda previewed the successor to its Swindon-produced Jazz, which features a completely new bodyshell and 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine. Jaguar XE Land Rover Discovery Sport Following a star-studded launch in London last month, the full Jaguar XE range made its first public appearance in Paris.The XE is Jaguar’s first new mid-sized saloon since TATA Motors took control of the company in 2008. Part of a £1.5 billion UK investment, the new Jaguar boasts an aluminium-intensive architecture, integral link suspension and a slew of new technology. It will be built at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull facility and has helped to create 1,700 new jobs at the plant.The UK manufacturer’s new saloon also debuts Jaguar’s first self-built engine for decades. The 2.0-litre diesel Ingenium engine will be built at Jaguar Land Rover’s new £500 million i54 facility in Wolverhampton, which will create 1,400 jobs in the region. read more