Welsh steel industry "fighting for its life", says minister
WALES’ steel industry is “fighting for its life” following the announcement of more than 1,000 job losses at plants in Newport, Port Talbot and elsewhere, a Welsh Government minister has said.
Speaking in the Senedd earlier today economy minister Edwina Hart said cheap imports from China and high UK energy costs were among the causes of last month’s announcement by Tata Steel that 1,050 jobs would be lost from its British operation.
“The steel industry is fighting for its life,” she said.
“If the steel industry does not survive, what happens to the manufacturer?”
A task group made of representatives of the Welsh Government, Tata, trade unions and other organisations was swiftly formed following last month’s announcement, and Ms Hart reported back today from its second meeting, which was held yesterday.
She told AMs the group was working to set up measures to support those set to lose their jobs as well as applying to the UK Government to designate Port Talbot, which is set to bear the brunt of the job losses, as an Enterprise Zone, which would qualify it for additional financial support.
“Of central importance is how to maintain as much of the workforce as possible,” she said.
Despite the majority of the losses set to fall on Port Talbot, Newport East AM John Griffiths said it was important the impact on the Llanwern site in Newport was not forgotten.
“I welcome the formation of the Welsh Government’s steel taskforce, and I do think it is important that Llanwern Steelworks and steelworkers in Newport are prominent in the overall work of the group,” he said.
“I believe we need to prioritise the need to attract investment to Llanwern, recognising its importance to the regional economy of South East Wales as a whole.”
Ms Hart responded by saying the Welsh Government was working closely with Tata to “There is the opportunity at Llanwern to look at the development for what is a excellent site, she said.
“We will be having discussions around what more we can do about the development of that site.”
In total Tata is set to cut 1,050 jobs – 750 in Llanwern and Port Talbot, 200 support roles and 100 from plants in England.