Wales Online

Anyone who’s ever driven up or down the M4 between Cardiff and Swansea will have seen it – a vast industrial complex, with the two blast furnaces towering over the rest of the works, and the town of Port Talbot and the stunning Aberavon beach stretching off into the horizon.

The Port Talbot steelworks is truly iconic, representing as it does the past, present and future of the Welsh and British steel industries.

Employing around 4,000 workers directly, and providing the basis for thousands more jobs through its supply chain and spin-off businesses, Port Talbot is the largest steel works in the UK, and it is no exaggeration to say that it’s the beating heart of the economy in my constituency.

The men and women of the Port Talbot works make the finest steel that money can buy, steel that is used for everything from our roads, railways and bridges to our houses and cars, and to the armoured vehicles that play such an important part in supporting our armed forces.

It’s also no exaggeration to say that the Port Talbot steelworks is facing huge challenges, and that the entire town is deeply concerned about the future.

The British steel industry has been hit hard by a perfect storm of the dumping of Chinese steel, crippling energy bills and the global economic down-turn.

Add to this the fact that this Tory government has utterly failed to do its bit to stand up for steel, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a crisis.

It is 10 minutes to midnight for the British steel industry, and for the Port Talbot works.

It’s now time for Tata Steel, the workforce, the trade unions and the government to pull together, take the hard choices that have to be taken, and to come up with a turn-around plan.

It will be painful, but the alternatives are too terrible to contemplate.

Families, households and entire communities across South Wales depend on the Port Talbot works.

This is about more than jobs and money, it’s about the word-class skills and capabilities that will be lost forever unless all the key players dig deep and hold their nerve, so that we can build a better future, together.

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