Wales

Tata Steel: What lies ahead for Shotton site?

It has been another crunch week for the steel industry in Wales - as Tata Steel confirmed there are seven bidders interested in taking on its UK operations.

But while most of the focus in recent weeks has been on the heavy end of the industry at Port Talbot - there are other parts of Tata's Welsh steel empire that are ready to strike back.

For one thing - at Shotton on Deeside in Flintshire - they are making money.

But it is not all smiles among the 700-strong workforce there - there are concerns too.

The future is bright, the future is orange - well, purple, yellow, blue, red, indigo - pretty much anything you want.

That is what they do at Tata Steel UK Shotton. They take raw steel made in the furnaces of Port Talbot and they turn it into a kaleidoscope of colour coatings.

That blue and yellow on the sides of a well known Swedish home furnishing store? Made in Shotton.

The red that roars from the sides of the Principality Stadium in Cardiff? Made in Shotton.

Steel galvanised floors in London's Shard, the Harry Potter studio tour buildings - all made in Wales.

The Shotton site employs 700 people and as many more in the supply chain, including BASF a few miles away which provides millions of gallons of paint to the site every year.

But what is is like to work there when you know the company is up for sale?

Bill Duckworth, site manager

"We take the raw uncoated steel from Port Talbot and we are adding value to it. We make some great products here - there are not the sort of thing a competitor can copy. It's a successful business.

"I think that the concern is the uncertainty at the moment. The workforce here are very skilled, they are pretty experienced - the focus for us is business as usual.

"There are never any guarantees in this business, that's one thing I've learnt from 30 years.

"But we're in as good as position as we can be.

"Whoever buys us, they are going to buy a vibrant, innovative business."

Paul Evans, packer on Colorcoat line

"I pack the coils here on the square - it's a good job, I like it - better than most stuff you get in the community.

"The people here are great. It's nice and local, it's easy to get to, it's a rewarding job at times.

"If you can get in here, you are pretty lucky to be honest. I've been here for six years, it's all I seem to know at the moment.

"The situation is on a lot of people's minds at the moment - but no-one's sure are they?

"What we've heard here is that we are quite profitable, this site. So hopefully, fingers crossed - they'll look at that - fingers crossed."

Julia Nixon, chemist in panels and profiles line

"I'm responsible for the chemistry in the panels - from development, right the way through up to lab trials and through to all of the testing that we have to take our panels to.

"We feel here at Shotton that we've got a great business. We've built this panel line, our panel business, right up from the very beginning. In the last eight years we've seen such an improvement in out business - we've got fantastic people who work here.

"We feel like this is a business that is completely viable - so the people are feeling that they are safe in their jobs.

"Whether we remain part of Tata or someone else buys us - we are quite happy and confident that we will continue to make panel.

"There is some uncertainty, yes, but we do feel that our jobs will still be here."

Pete Lloyd, shift team leader, Colorcoat line

"I'm in charge on a shift basis on what the line is going to produce for the next 12 hours. I've been at Shotton for 27 years - a fair amount of time - since I left school.

"The abiding feeling at Shotton is one of frustration more than anything else, in that this site makes money - it's a profitable business.

"All we ever see on the news is the loss-making steel industry and certainly for this site it's not true.

"We're not stupid - we understand the reality that is facing the steel industry, but this site as a business - it makes money.

"If I had the money, I'd buy it. It's got to be an attractive business.

Darryl Price, team leader, Colorcoat line

"I'm responsible for the day-to-day running of this Colorcoat line, health and safety of the work here and the quality of the production.

"I came straight from school 32 years ago, so yes, family - it seems that way now.

"When I first came it was British Steel here, then we went to Corus and now Tata. The changes have been enormous.

"We've all made lots of sacrifices lately to keep running as well as it is. So we're quite worried.

"We don't lose money here any more, the product we make is quite specific to Shotton and it is a little bit disappointing that we are under threat."

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