Months of uncertainty ends for thousands of steel workers

Months of uncertainty ends for thousands of steel workers

A promising announcement in the steel industry recently has brought Christmas early for thousands of steel workers based at Port Talbot and other steelworks across the country.

In March, an announcement to sell the steelworks put around 5,500 jobs at risk. This came after a huge layoff of 2,000 workers based in North East in October 2015. The U-turn in the decision emerged after a meeting with unions on Wednesday 7th December.

As optimistic as this sounds, steel workers will have to agree to pension changes and will now be balloted. The current pension is due to be replaced with a “defined contribution scheme” with maximum contributions of 10% by the company and 6% from staff. Commitments from the employers of the workers include a minimum 5 year commitment to keeping two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and a 10 year investment plan to support steel making at the site.

Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of Community, said:

“The past year has been incredibly difficult for steelworkers and their families. When Tata announced in March that they planned to sell the steelworks, no one knew if they would have a job by Christmas. This proposal would secure jobs for years to come and bring serious investment not just to Port Talbot but to steelworks across the UK.”

For decades, steel workers have endured tough working conditions due to the noise, heat and extreme hazards found in foundries. Many workers suffer from conditions directly caused by their working environment such as occupational asthma, hearing loss and dermatitis.

Working conditions have improved over the last 20 years and most workers are provided with hearing protection, hard hats, safety goggles and protective clothing/PPE.

Hearing Loss

Widely considered one of the noisiest environments to work in, the steel industry has seen major problems arising from the excessive levels of noise found in steel works. Loud blast furnaces, CNC milling machines, forging and casting are just some of the noisiest working areas that contribute to hearing loss amongst steel workers.


Occupational asthma and other respiratory conditions are common in steel plants due to fumes created during many of the steel making processes.


Instances of dermatitis or other skin conditions caused by working in the steel industry are common. Certain chemicals used throughout various processes can cause reactions if exposed to the skin, resulting in occupational dermatitis.

Roberts Jackson applauds the decision to keep steel workers employed and also the Unions for putting forward very good arguments to assist the employees of the steel industry.

Roberts Jackson Solicitors act for workers in the steel industry on a daily basis and are currently fighting the corner for them on a legal basis due to some of the conditions mentioned above. We can offer you free legal advice and a no win no fee service if you believe that working in the steel industry has affected your health/caused a health condition to develop or worsen. To get in touch simply fill the form in on the right hand side of this page or call our Freephone number: 0800 001 4496.

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