Commenting on the news that steel unions have achieved a commitment from Tata Steel to secure the future of jobs and investment at Port Talbot and across Strip Products UK, Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament for Aberavon said:
“In principle, today’s news brings to an end almost 9 months of uncertainty since Tata Steel announced plans to sell their UK operation, including the Port Talbot steelworks in my Aberavon constituency. However, serious questions and concerns remain around the pension scheme, and further detail will clearly be required, before the package is put to an all-member ballot.
“We have come a very long way from where we were back in late March when I travelled out to Mumbai with Community Union, and when Tata Steel declared their intention to sell the business, unleashing moths of uncertainty for steelworkers, their families, and our entire community. So it is great to see that the company now recognise that both Port Talbot and the broader industry have a bright future.
“Retaining the two blast furnaces in Port Talbot is essential, and the £1billion investment plan will go a long way towards building the competitiveness and productivity of Port Talbot and the downstream sites.
“The production, jobs and investment elements of this deal represent a historic victory for pragmatic trade unionism, and for the power of united and concerted campaigning by steelworkers, steel communities, and steel MPs. I would also like to pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of the workforce who have consistently broken production records, continue to make the best steel that money can buy, and who have done so much to put the business back on an even keel.
“But let’s be clear: this deal has been struck in spite of, not because of, the government. The government only began to engage with the steel industry when it became a public relations disaster for them.
“Labour MPs have raised the issues facing the steel industry almost 300 times in the House since the last general election, and we, our communities, the workforce and unions will continue to put pressure on the government, because there is still so much to be done.
“Today’s news is a step forward, but the underlying challenges of illegal Chinese dumping, uncompetitive energy prices, inadequate procurement policies and the government’s failure to come forward with a proper industrial strategy for steel still remain.
“Without action on these key issues our industry will not be able to fulfil its full potential: we want a steel industry than can do more than survive, we want an industry that will go from strength to strength.”