Monday, August 18, 2008

Port Talbot plant is viable say the workforce

Latest speculation over the future of Port Talbot steel- works has been dismissed as just that - speculation.Industry analysts raised doubts over the plant's future after owner, Tata Steel, announced plans to double its return on invested capital in the next five years.
Some observers believe that could put Port Talbot in a vulnerable position.
But the workforce says such speculation is unfounded and believes Tata sees the Port Talbot plant as one of its strengths.

Speculation as to its future was prompted by a statement by Tata Steel director Jean-Sebastien Jacques in the company's annual report.
He said: "The group will pursue the optimisation of its European assets, dispose and restructure assets that are of low profitability and pursue differentiation of products and services."
Neither Corus or Tata has shed further light on which assets he was referring to.
A Corus spokesman said: "Tata's plans have to be seen in the context of the normal portfolio programme management that any large company carries out as routine. The portfolio doesn't just concern Corus."
A number of industry analysts have told industry magazine Metal Bulletin they believe it likely that Tata will focus any of its restructuring efforts on Corus's Port Talbot works.
One observer noted: "Steel production costs are higher in the UK than they are in India and Corus's plant in Holland is more efficient than its Port Talbot one.
"Tata might want to transfer some of the Port Talbot assets to Holland or India, or maybe shut some of them down over a period of time."
Another analyst noted: "The No 4 blast furnace at Port Talbot is due for relining in the next couple of years.
"Tata might decide that it's cheaper to produce slab in India and ship it out to Europe for re-rolling from there."
Former Neath Port Talbot mayor Tony Taylor, a team member at the Port Talbot plant, said: "We believe this speculation is unfounded.
"We are always concerned about the future but we feel we have a proven track record that can stand us in good stead.
"We have shown over the past couple of years that we can make high quality steel at reasonable prices.
"We are a viable plant and the speculation surrounding No 4 blast furnace is unfounded.
"We have a project plan to rebuild and that is due to go before the board some time in the near future.
"We have a highly skilled, dedicated and motivated workforce who know there's a future for us at Port Talbot.
"We have proven to Tata what we can do, and they value Port Talbot and know it can be a cost-effective plant for the foreseeable future.
"Yes, we know there are pressures and threats but don't knock a workforce which has faced up to those pressures in the past. We can do it and we know we can do it. We don't see ourselves as a weak link in the operation but as a strength for the future for Tata."


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