UNION leaders in Llanwern have vowed to “fight Tata until the last stand” as the plant's future continues to be dogged by uncertainty amid plans to decarbonise British steel.

This September, the UK Government agreed a £500 million support package to support Tata’s transition to cleaner technology, with union leaders bracing for an announcement of 3,000 job losses.

The Indian conglomerate has delayed an announcement about the steps to decarbonisation in the UK - which are expected to see 3,000 people lose their jobs - leaving workers in limbo about the industry's future. Reggie Gutteridge, chairman of the multi-union of Llanwern, has asked what “safeguards” are attached to the government grant.

“What is Tata’s industrial strategy? Because none of us can see it,” he said. “What we’re wondering is whether this is their plan to leave the UK.”

A spokesperson for Tata Steel said the company was “not in a position” to announce any proposals relating to decarbonisation in the UK but hoped to start a formal consultation process with employee representatives soon.

John Griffiths MS for Newport East told union leaders at Llanwern: “If we haven’t got the capacity to make steel, we are not going to be a serious player in the world.”

Mr Griffiths said the Welsh Government wanted to do “all it can” to protect people during the transition to green steel production - but had been side-lined during talks between Tata and Westminster.

Rob Edwards, regional secretary of Community Union, said Tata’s plans “raised more questions than answers” and believes Llanwern could face closure as soon as 2027.

“Electric arcs are not something you can just plug in like a Hoover," he said. "It would need completely new infrastructure.

South Wales Argus: Union leaders believe the Llanwern plant could close as soon as 2027

“At this moment, we have no idea whether we are going, but someone is going to say we’ve gone green and we’ll be offshoring it.”

Mr Gutteridge added: “We’re importing dirty steel and exporting people’s jobs.

“We’ve promised these trainees a future. They’ve come in and smashed it – done their NVQs and GCSEs. Some of them have got families and big mortgages. They’re asking us whether we are going to lose our jobs and we are saying we can’t tell you.

“We expect Tata to sit with the unions because, up to now, there have been no talks. They have done it through leaks, and with the UK Government.

“We will go to war and we will be prepared to fight Tata until the last stand. We are still here. We are still relevant. They call Port Talbot the mothership because it’s bigger, but we’ve got a satellite here. I’m not letting this plant go without a fight.”

South Wales Argus: When steel was black and white: Llanwern plant in the 1970s

Jessica Morden MP for Newport East has spoken with union leaders about the future of the Llanwern plant and joined a “save our steel” march in Port Talbot Saturday, November 11.

“There were always places the workers could go, but this would be the last domino,” she said. “There has been no long-term steel, just sticking plaster politics."

She added: “We know we have to decarbonise but we have to do it in a fair way.

“The government has done a deal with the company without consulting the very dedicated workforce. We need a government that listens and does things together.”

South Wales Argus: Jessica Morden MP poses with steelworkers in Port Talbot

Business minister Nusrat Ghani MP told the House of Commons that decisions about "upskilling", "reskilling" and "assurances in the supply chain" would be taken by a transition board comprising the secretary of state for Wales David Davies, the Welsh Government's economy minister Vaughan Gething, UK Government levelling-up secretary Michael Gove, and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Steel and Metal Industries Stephen Kinnock.

Ms Ghani said the decisions would be taken "locally" and "in consultation".

A spokesperson for Tata Steel said: “We are not in a position to make an announcement about any proposals for a transition to a decarbonised future for Tata Steel UK.

“We hope to soon start a formal information and consultation process with our employee representatives, in which we would share more details about any such proposals.

“We believe our £1.25 billion proposal to transition to green steel making will secure the business for the longer term, bolster UK steel security and help develop a green ecosystem in the region.

“We are committed to a meaningful information and consultation process with our trade union partners and will carefully consider any proposals put forward.”