Myself and David Rees MS have today issued the following statement after Tata Steel’s briefing to Trade Union leaders yesterday:
“Yesterday, steelworkers and their families in and around Port Talbot once again suffered huge anxiety as their futures and livelihoods were thrown into a black hole following the reported briefing given to the trade unions by Tata officials.
The proposal to shut both blast furnaces and the coking ovens together with other elements of the ‘heavy end’ of the steel making process linked with the mothballing of the Hot Mill and the Casting plant (BOS plant) has left people wondering where the future of steel making in Port Talbot and across the UK will go. Such plans would see thousands of jobs lost, both of those employed directly within Tata, and of those contractors who service the functions of the works.
We don’t know what the Tata Board was intending to announce yesterday, but one thing is absolutely clear: Port Talbot steelworkers will never accept any plan that’s based upon the closing down of our iron and steel making facilities and replacing the steel produced with supplies of steel coil made overseas, perhaps even as far off as India, for however many years it will take to build a new electric arc furnace. Closing down our own industry to bring in steels from countries thousands of miles away where production processes are far less green than those already existing in Port Talbot is not a step towards creating a greener steel industry. Rather, it’s an approach that would be based on exporting jobs, importing carbon and using the mask of “green steel production” to hide the wanton destruction of Britain’s steel making capability.
The steel trade unions have a plan that can decarbonise our steel making, that can protect the order books and client base of the works, and that will deliver a just transition for the workforce to a greener steel production site. Steelworkers are not hiding from change: they know the future of steel making will be transformed, and they want to embrace that change and use it to strengthen our place in a competitive global market. But they are simply not prepared to agree to a change plan that would destroy our steel-making, destroy thousands of jobs, and destroy the very fabric of our community.
Yesterday’s fiasco demonstrates that Tata must now engage with the unions and fundamentally rethink their proposals so that a new approach can be agreed – an approach which delivers a properly managed transition from the current steel making processes to one which will create a greener, viable and competitive future both for Port Talbot and Tata Steel UK.
We need a plan that is based on a well-built bridge, not a reckless and potentially lethal cliff edge.
Because the plan that Tata Steel briefed to the unions yesterday would quite frankly be an act of industrial vandalism that would abruptly destroy our primary steelmaking capacity, with nothing in the near future to replace it.
Our hope is therefore that the delay we all saw yesterday from Tata is a step in the right direction: a direction which will not see mass job losses and major economic impacts upon local communities and business in and around Port Talbot, and we will work alongside all parties who seek the same goals.”
Read full coverage on our statement below:
Aberavon MP and MS Issue Joint Statement After Yesterdays ‘Black Hole’ Briefing on Future of Tata Steel (newsfromwales.co.uk)