Port Talbot steelworks – our Notre Dame

port talbot 4

I was woken this morning by radio news of an explosion in the Port Talbot works. My heart sank as my mind turned to people I have met and the livelihoods that depend on these works

It seems that the incident was caused by a train , that there have been no fatalities and only a couple of minor injuries have been reported.

The safety procedures seem to have worked – a testament to how far workers protection has improved in recent years.  18 years ago a blast at the Corus plant killed three workers.

The cost to productivity and the fragile recovery of the steelworks towards sustainability will emerge over time.


 The works , the town and pensions

The Port Talbot steelworks are iconic. The link between the town and its major employer is obvious even as you drive past on the M4.

The blast is felt in India (at least on social media)

The link between the works, the town and pensions is well known. It was here that some of the most egregious advice was given to financially vulnerable steel men and the words “Port Talbot” have resonance in pensions circles.

Wales’ Notre Dame?

 Port Talbot means so much to us.

Port Talbot is relevant to the UK, to India and it has brought the issues that this country faces over pensions into a sharp focus.

We understand that the financial futures of many steel men are linked to the productivity of the works. We want the works to do well because we want the steel men to get good pensions. The town, its people and its future prosperity are so tied up with the works that Port Talbot is to me and to many others a way of understanding what workplace pensions can be about.

Which is why today’s blast seems relevant to me as a pensions person.

And what is of enormous value is that the NewBSPS scheme is pretty well sufficient from problems such as these and that past benefits, whether they are paid from the PPF or from NewBSPS are secure.

We hope that the blasts heard and felt by the people of Port Talbot and nearby towns will not lead to lay-offs and that the works will return to full production soon.

A nation holds its breath, and those who have been involved in the steel men’s “Time to Choose” hold our breath too.

Port Talbot has made pensions relevant for us, we are deeply engaged with the livelihoods of its people and hope that this blast will not endanger the covenant of work and pension accrual, the plant provides.

Port talbot sun 2

Sun rising at port Talbot

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Port Talbot steelworks – our Notre Dame

  1. Robert says:

    I live about five miles away from Tata’s Port Talbot Works and I was woken by the few blasts which occurred around 3:30 am today.

    I understand that two employees were slightly injured but thankfully no serious injuries have been reported.

    The blasts caused fires and damage to some buildings on the site.

    TATA confirmed shortly before 6:00 am that the fires had been extinguished and it had started after a spillage of liquid iron was travelling to the steel plant by train.

    This liquid iron is carried by rail in what we call a ‘torpedo’ which have the capacity to carry up to 320 tonnes at a time!

    A full investigation into the incident has begun.

    Hopefully, everything will resume to normal soon.

    Excellent blog Henry, thanks for sharing your concerns.

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