Tata Steel workers in Britain to begin indefinite strike next month

FILE PHOTO: Views of Tata Steel Port Talbot steel production plant in Port Talbot, Wales

LONDON (Reuters) -Around 1,500 Tata Steel workers in Britain will begin an indefinite strike from July 8 over the company's plans to close two blast furnaces and cut up to 2,800 jobs, the trade union Unite said on Friday.

The strike action, described by Unite as the first strikes by British steel workers in 40 years, will take place at Tata's Port Talbot and Llanwern sites in Wales.

A spokesperson for Tata Steel said the company was disappointed by Unite's decision, adding that the steelmaking assets were operationally unstable and causing losses of 1 million pounds a day.

"If the safety and stability of our operations are put at risk by this action, we will be forced to accelerate those closure plans," the spokesperson added.

The closures were announced in January as part of the Indian company's plan to turn around its loss-making UK business by switching to lower carbon electric arc furnaces, a proposal backed by 500 million pounds ($632 million) of government money.

"Tata’s workers are not just fighting for their jobs - they are fighting for the future of their communities and the future of steel in Wales," Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said.

Tata Steel employs more than 8,000 people in the UK. The company said in January about 2,500 jobs of the total being cut were likely to go over the next 18 months.

($1 = 0.7913 pounds)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Muvija M; editing by William James)