Labour politicians ‘engaging in fantasy politics’ over Tata job cuts, says David TC Davies’
Welsh Secretary David Davies has accused Labour politicians of engaging in “fantasy politics” over the Tata Steel job losses and putting at risk thousands of further jobs.
The group has confirmed the closure of blast furnace steel production at Port Talbot with the a loss of 3,000 jobs.
Labour has accused the UK Government of letting down the workers and helping to destroy the British steel industry.
But Mr Davies claimed he and his Westminster colleagues had saved thousands more jobs by offering aid to Tata that would see steel production continue at Port Talbot with an electric arc furnace.
He told Nation.Cymru: “The fact is that Tata’s losses have now risen to £1.5m a day – a sum that is wholly unsustainable. It’s been known for months that 3,000 jobs were highly likely to go with the closure of blast furnace production. While obviously the company had to go through a formal consultation process, what’s been announced should come as no surprise to anyone.
“Far from running away from the situation, the UK Government has intervened to try to put steelmaking on a more stable footing and save many thousands of further jobs.
“The Welsh Government doesn’t have the resources to come up with the kind of money necessary for a rescue package, so it has been up to the UK Government to come up with a deal. We have involved the Welsh Government’s Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, as well as Aberavon’s MP Stephen Kinnock and the local Senedd Member David Rees.
“We’ve set up a Transition Board which I chair and the UK Government is putting in around £600m to ensure investment in the electric arc furnace and training aimed at getting new jobs for the workers who will be made redundant. As a result of our intervention, as many as 12,500 direct and indirect jobs will be saved in the steel industry that would otherwise be lost.”
Mr Davies said criticisms of the deal were unfair and based on what he described as “fantasy politics”.
He said: “Some Labour politicians have been trying to make political capital out of this extremely difficult situation, which I think is most unfair and irresponsible. The fact is that Tata is sustaining huge losses at Port Talbot and without our intervention they could have shut the operation down entirely and walked away.
“Of course it’s bad news that thousands of workers are going to lose their jobs, but a total pull-out by Tata would be even worse. Such a possibility might still arise if workers are encouraged to go on strike. I know that everything possible will be done to find new jobs for the redundant Tata workers. The retraining opportunities are first class and jobs are certainly available.
“I haven’t seen a coherent alternative plan put forward by Labour. Some have mentioned converting the plant to hydrogen production, but there is only one plant in the world where that has already happened – at Lulea in northern Sweden, where the costs are around 25% higher.
“People have also suggested that the rescue plan involves an effective end to British steel production. But speaking in pure terms, that’s already happened. The iron ore that is processed at Port Talbot is all shipped in from abroad and currently the plant’s CO2 emissions are among the highest in the UK, if not the highest. Using an electric arc furnace will help Wales reduce its carbon emissions considerably.
“Some Labour politicians have suggested that the Tata plants should be nationalised and that the state should fund steel production. This is also fantasy politics, as I can’t imagine that a Labour government under Keir Starmer would have such an idea on its agenda.”
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