Party leaders have pledged to work with one another and with the UK government to protect steel workers and their families
Image: The Welsh town of Port Talbot, where 5,500 people are employed in the steel works
Calls are being made for the Welsh Assembly to be recalled to consider the future of Steel production in Wales. It follows the news from India last night that Tata Steel plans to sell off its entire operations in the UK.
The development will cause considerable anxiety for the 4,000 people employed at its biggest steel works plant in Port Talbot.
In a statement issued last night, the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, promised to work closely with Ministers in Whitehall to find a solution, despite ‘serious disagreements’ with the UK Government over its approach to the industry to date. He continued:
“I want the Welsh steelworkers and their families to know that no stone will be left unturned in our bid to support you through what comes.
“Whilst we have serious disagreements with the UK government on many issues at the moment, we will work with them, and anyone else, who can help to secure a sustainable steel industry in Wales.
“Wales has faced up to tough times before, and we will always stand in solidarity with our brilliant, skilled workforce and with our communities.”
Andrew R T Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives called for the Assembly to be recalled from its Easter break to consider the matter.
I reiterate my commitment to work with other Welsh party leaders to speak with one voice and to fight to find a viable future for our steel.
— Andrew RT Davies (@AndrewRTDavies) March 29, 2016
With the Assembly not currently scheduled to meet again until after May’s elections, Davies who noted that his first thoughts were with steel workers and their families called for all parties in the Assembly to ‘speak with one voice in the fight to secure a viable future for Welsh steel.’
Backing calls for a recall of the Assembly, Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood, argued for the need for a coordinated political response ‘focused on safeguarding the future of this vital industry.’
Noting that losing the Port Talbot plant ‘would be a devastating blow to the whole steel industry and to the Welsh economy’ she noted that the priority should now 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.’
If reports from Mumbai are true, it’s devastating. @Plaid_Cymru wants Assembly recall. All must work together now to save our steel industry
— LeanneWood (@LeanneWood) March 29, 2016
Again, calling for an Assembly recall, Lib Dem AM for South Wales West, Peter Black, called on Ministers in Wales and the UK to ‘act fast.’
Worrying news coming from India on the future of steel production in Port Talbot. Urgent intervention needed by Welsh and UK governments
— Peter Black (@peterblackwales) March 29, 2016
With the First Minister now also supporting a return for AMs to the Assembly to consider the matter it seems inconceivable that the Dame Rosemary Butler, the Assembly’s Presiding Officer, will not agree to a recall.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.