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Plaid Cymru urges Starmer to prove commitment to Welsh steel industry from day one of power

05 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Port Talbot steelworks. Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Emily Price

Plaid Cymru has urged Keir Starmer to prove his commitment to the Welsh steel industry with action from day one of being in power.

Senedd politician Luke Fletcher said the newly appointed Prime Minister must follow up on a key election pledge for the steel industry.

In February, Labour committed to a £3bn fund for the steel industry spent over five years instead of the the decade originally planned.

The promise came despite Labour leader Keir Starmer ditching his party’s flagship £28bn green investment pledge.

As Labour celebrated a landslide victory on Friday morning (July 5), Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Energy and the Economy demanded immediate action to address the looming crisis at Port Talbot’s steelworks.

Strike action

It follows months of uncertainty about the future of Tata Steel’s blast furnace operations in Port Talbot.

Tata has said that it could accelerate the closure of blast furnaces 4 and 5 in response to strike action by Unite the Union.

Original plans would have seen blast furnace 5 close in early July 2024, with blast furnace 4 closing in September 2024.

But the plans were suspended following fresh negotiations between Tata and the union.

During a meeting of the Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee on June 26, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said the Welsh Government had last met with Tata on June 10 to urge the company not to make “irreversible decisions until after the election”.

Questions were raised by Plaid Cymru about the details of Labour’s £3 billion pledge post-general election.

During the committee meeting, Mr Miles said: “I think a commitment of £3 billion is a very significant commitment. How that is deployed is a matter for a Government that’s been elected to discuss and engage with the steel sector itself, which is why our position as a Government has been so clear that decisions shouldn’t be taken until that new Government is in place and able to have those discussions in its capacity as a Government with those businesses.”

Serious

In a statement following the results of the general election Mr Fletcher said: “Before Keir Starmer has even had a chance to spend his first night in Number 10, he is confronted with the critical challenge of securing primary steelmaking in Wales and safeguarding its future.

“The new Prime Minister must step up and show that he is serious about Welsh steelmaking from day one.

“Since the announcement of £3 billion for steel, very little else besides this figure has been revealed – we have no idea how much of this will be dedicated to Port Talbot, we have no idea how Keir Starmer intends to prevent the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs in the sector, and we have no idea as to how this new  government intends to stop the immediate closure of the blast furnaces.

“This government must also show that it will consider all options on the table when it comes to keeping the blast furnaces operational, including nationalisation – this must surely now be on the government’s agenda.

“We need evidence that this government hasn’t given up on Welsh steel and the communities that have given so much to the industry, and it must provide this with urgent and decisive action.”


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S Duggan
S Duggan
9 days ago

There may be a Labour government in Westminster but I suspect nothing much will change in Cymru. The real change we need is not London based.

Sneb yn gwbod.
Sneb yn gwbod.
9 days ago
Reply to  S Duggan

This is a ringing endorsement for Vaughan.

Adrian
Adrian
9 days ago

Can someone please explain to me how Labour and Plaid can simultaneously advocate the Net Zero pipe dream whilst simultaneously claiming to lament the closure of a fossil-fuel-powered steel plant? Also, they’re both fond of telling us about all the wonderful new ‘green’ jobs that Net Zero will bring – where are they in Port Talbot?

Last edited 9 days ago by Adrian
Howie
Howie
9 days ago

I very much doubt that blast 5 will be stopped from winding down, stopping the winding down of blast 4 will take hard cash, that is what TATA understand, as their past actions have shown from hiving off the old British Steel Pension Fund to closures of large parts of Llanwern and other UK plants.
What delaying effect could that have on plans Labour have for other policy areas.

Sneb yn gwbod.
Sneb yn gwbod.
8 days ago

How does Plaid suggest Labour moves forward. OH SILENCE NO IDEAS.

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