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115 jobs lost at Tata Steel plant

A hot strip mill at a huge steel plant is to be mothballed because of "continuing poor demand", with the loss of 115 jobs, it has been announced.

Tata Steel said the temporary mothballing of the mill at its Llanwern site in Newport, South Wales, will take immediate effect.

The move will lead to the loss of 115 jobs - agency workers, contractors and others on fixed-term contracts.

Tata Steel said the facility is expected to remain mothballed until the UK economy and steel demand justify a restart of operations.

Jon Ferriman, of Tata, said: "It is with great regret that we have had to make this decision. I would like to pay tribute to those valuable people who have helped us make the flexible working model a success at Llanwern. Clearly, this is a very difficult time for them.

"The Llanwern Hot Rolling Mill is an important operation for us, and our intention is to bring it back into operation as soon as market conditions permit."

Tata said the mothballing was a result of "continuing poor UK steel demand" amid a deteriorating European economic outlook, and was not connected to the effects on primary steelmaking of UK or EU environmental legislation.

During the financial crisis in 2009 the Llanwern hot strip mill was mothballed for nine months, also as a result of poor market conditions, leading to a flexible working model being designed.

A 30-day consultation process will take place with the fixed-term contract staff, agency workers and contractors affected by the announcement. The plant will employ around 1,500 staff after the cuts.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "This is hugely disappointing news that will be a blow to both the local economy and community. We will work with Tata to see what help we can provide to workers affected by this decision."

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