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Politicians' Action Call For Steelworkers

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood

Port Talbot plant facing a fight for survival

Tata Steel is planning to sell its entire UK steel-making operation - putting thousands of jobs at risk. 

Tata's largest operation is at Port Talbot, where around 7-thousand staff and contractors are employed at the plant.

A statement from the Welsh Government says: "This is a difficult time for workers in Port Talbot and across the UK. During the review process, we remain committed to working with Tata and the unions on a long term sustainable future for British steel making.
 
"Both the Welsh and UK governments are working tirelessly to look at all viable options to keep a strong British steel industry at the heart of our manufacturing base."

 

Aberavon AM David Rees said: "If the reports from Mumbai are correct then this decision continues to leave the Port Talbot works in limbo as even though this is not the closure of the plant, neither is it an acceptance of the survival plan. The future of the works now lies in the ability to find a buyer of the UK operations and that buyer funding and investing in the Port Talbot plant.

It's time for the UK government to take a lead and protect our steel industry and work with the Welsh government to find funding streams that both modernise the Port Talbot works and create a viable steel plant that is attractive to investors.

The UK government must also take action in the EU to support EU proposals to remove the Lower Rate Duty and impose higher tariffs on imported steel. So far they have opposed attempts to do this which is resulting in a failure to impose effective controls on cheap imported steel. This is a must to make British steel attractive to any investor and offer a business that can make profits.

Port Talbot has a long history of steel making and the workforce has demonstrated time after time their commitment. They have hit record levels of production, accepted plans that meant hundreds of job losses and worked with management to improve efficiency and quality. There can be a future for the plant but we now need effective and speedy intervention by the UK Tory government (who say they want to see steel making continue in Port Talbot) to realise that future."

Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has called for the National Assembly to be recalled in order to coordinate an urgent political response to the news reports that Tata is to sell the Port Talbot steelworks.

Leanne Wood called on all parties in Wales to set their political differences aside and to work together in order to secure the future of the plant and, crucially, the thousands of jobs which depend on it.

She added that while the news of a sale is better than closure, urgent action was needed to end the continued risks and uncertainty surrounding the fate of the Port Talbot steelworks.

"If it proves to be true that Tata intends to sell the Port Talbot steelworks, politicians from all parties and from within the Welsh and UK governments must work together to secure the future of the plant.

"The priority now must be to seek out a reliable potential buyer to ensure that the highly-skilled workforce at Port Talbot can continue to produce world-class steel.

"The National Assembly is currently in recess but must be recalled in order for all parties in Wales to coordinate a political response focused on safeguarding the future of this vital industry.

"Losing this plant would be a devastating blow to the whole steel industry and to the Welsh economy. We are still living with the effects of losing the coal industry in the eighties.

"Continued risk and uncertainty is unacceptable. Any further action must be decisive and proactive, and we must continue to fight tooth and nail to protect Tata workers and their jobs. They deserve nothing less."

Peter Black AM also has called for the National Assembly to be reconvened following reports that Tata is expected to announce the sale of its UK business.
 
Peter Black, Assembly Member for South Wales West, has e-mailed the First Minister calling on him to request the Presiding Officer reconvenes the Assembly on a matter of urgent public importance.
 
The Assembly's Standing Order 12.3 states: "If no plenary meeting is timetabled for a particular date or time, the Presiding Officer may, at the request of the First Minister, summon the Assembly to consider a matter of urgent public importance."
 
Mr Black said: "These reports are truly devastating and our thoughts go out to Tata employees and their families.
 
"This is clearly a matter of urgent public importance and therefore it is inconceivable that the Assembly doesn't reconvene.
 
"Ministers in both governments need to act fast. Simply holding up their hands and saying they are out of ideas is simply not good enough.
 
"For years the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for business rates to be reduced to support the steel industry, yet the Labour Government has sat on its hands offering nothing.  Likewise, inaction from the Tory Government has been utterly unforgivable.  Too much time has already been wasted and we need to see positive action now from both governments as well as further action to attract new investment to Port Talbot such as the creation of an urban development company."

 

Dr Altaf Hussain AM, Welsh Conservative AM for South Wales West, has said that nationalisation of Port Talbot's TATA plant may be the only viable option to guarantee its immediate future.

Dr Hussain said: "The consequences of the plant closing could be unthinkable - if you look at the broader supply chain, 10,000 local jobs are dependent upon it.  That's a huge number of families that could end up on the breadline if production ceased, with a kock-on effect that would be unfathomable.
 
"The closure of the plant would be a clear and present danger to our local economy and way of life.
 
"The UK government was absolutely right to intervene when the prospect of our banks failing risked destroying peoples' livelihoods.  Nationalisation should never be the preferred option - but if it was right to do so then, it may well be right to do so now.  I firmly believe that steel has a sustainable future in Wales - so why should it be treated any differentl?.

"I am determined that we should back the Welsh steel industry - the TATA plant in Port Talbot has the potential to be one of the most efficient in the world -  but there is sadly a risk that it could fall victim to a 'perfect storm'  beyond the control of any individual government or institution.

"In the long run, it would clearly be better for our local economy to secure the plant's future through temporary public ownership whilst a buyer is found than to allow the plant to fail.

"We need to create the right local conditions to ensure the plant is an attractive proposition for a credible purchaser.  It is said that there is enough coal underneath the area to power the plant for 100 years - this is something we should look at seriously, as it could reap real reward.

"The people of Wales should not pay the price for the economic woes of China - where steel has often been produced with little concern for the workers making it, or for the environment.  Wales can still be a world leader in the production of steel and I will be making this case as strongly as possible to the Welsh Government, UK Government and the EU.

"If taking the plant into short-term public ownership would guarantee its immediate survival, then opposing this on the grounds of narrow ideology would be completely wrong.  I am confident that there remains a viable future for steel production in Port Talbot".
 

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