Executives from steel giant Tata to be questioned over Port Talbot plans
Executives from steel giant Tata will be questioned by MPs on Wednesday following the company’s decision to close blast furnaces at its Port Talbot plant – with the loss of up to 2,800 jobs.
Politicians and union leaders will also appear before the Welsh Affairs committee, including Minister for Economy at the Welsh Government Vaughan Gething and the Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies.
Steelworkers will stage protests outside Parliament to warn of the impact on jobs of shutting down the blast furnaces at the site.
Tata plans to switch to a more environmentally friendly production of steel, which requires fewer workers.
The committee says it wants to understand the decision’s impact on the steel industry in Wales, the local community and the Welsh economy.
The future of the UK steel sector will also be discussed.
Alasdair McDiarmid, assistant general secretary of the Community union, said: “I look forward to putting forward the case for our credible multi-union plan for Port Talbot and the Welsh steel industry to the Committee.
“The UK Government’s bad deal for steel would be devastating to the Welsh economy and, in degrading Britain’s primary steelmaking capacity, represents a grave threat to the UK’s sovereignty and national security apparatus.
“We’re very pleased that there has been such strong support for our plan from the Labour benches, along with a firm commitment to £3 billion of investment in our steel industry over the next decade.
“At this critical juncture, we need to see far more ambition from the current government, whose ministers over the last week alone have refused to confirm whether they think the UK should even have the ability to produce virgin steel.
“It’s important that Conservative MPs – including those on the Committee who will have workers from Port Talbot, Trostre and Llanwern living in their constituencies – now make the case to the ministers that steel communities across the country feel badly let down, and will never forgive this government if they continue with the destructive bad deal agreed with Tata.”
On the line
Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB national officer, said: “These steel workers have got everything on the line – their jobs, the security of their families, the whole future of their town.
“They need to hear first hand Tata bosses try and justify why their putting thousands of people out of work.
“The UK has gone from a huge steel exporter 15 years ago, to now importing £2 billion worth every year. Soon we won’t even be able to make primary steel in this country.
“It’s a national disgrace.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “If Tata are committed to UK steel and want to benefit from that investment – as they say – it is vital that they heed Labour’s call not to make any ‘irreversible decisions’ about Port Talbot until after the general election.
“That means shelving its plan to shut down both blast furnaces and make mass redundancies.”
Tata says it is losing £1 million a day, adding that the switch to greener production will save thousands of jobs.
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