Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Unanimous Senedd backing for Tata rescue plan as Adam Price calls for nationalisation of company’s Welsh assets

07 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Port Talbot steelworks

Martin Shipton

Senedd Members from all four parties have unanimously backed a motion calling for an alternative plan aimed at keeping blast furnaces operating at Tata Steel in Port Talbot until new green investment comes on stream.

Tata is losing £1.5m in day on its UK operations and has started a 45-day consultation on a proposal that would see the loss of 2,800 jobs. The UK Government is putting in around £600m to ensure investment by Tata in an electric arc furnace and training aimed at getting new jobs for the workers who will be made redundant

But MSs supported by 54 votes to zero the Welsh Government’s call for a rethink that would allow a longer transition.

Viable future

After the vote in a Senedd plenary session, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Tonight’s vote sends a strong message from the entire Senedd. There is a viable future for blast furnace steel making in Wales and a better deal could and should be struck for an industry we all rely on.

“The steel industry is part of our nation’s story and stands today as a marker of Welsh excellence. The deal reached between the UK Government and Tata risks delivering an economic loss of historic proportions for Wales within an industry that underpins our manufacturing future and the green jobs it could unlock.

“Senedd Members have come together to send a clear message – there is another way that allows a highly skilled, dedicated workforce to deliver a greener future for Welsh steel. We will continue to engage with the business, trades unions and UK Ministers to support the best deal for steel, not the cheapest deal.”

Plan C

During the debate, former Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “The Secretary of State for Wales [David TC Davies] has said there is no Plan C for Welsh Steel – it’s either Plan A, which is shutting everything, or Plan B which is Plan A by stages and stealth. We need a Plan C. Nobody else is going to come up with it. And we’ve got just 41 days to devise it. So we need to act now with urgency and decisiveness.

“If only we had an Assembly now to defend us, we said in the Miner’s Strike [in 1984-85]. Well, we do have a Parliament now, so what are we going to do?

“Let’s refuse to be resigned to our fate. Let’s refuse to be bystanders at a funeral. Let’s decide to be active agents in shaping our future. So what’s the plan?

“In steel plants across Europe – in Ghent, Duisburg and Dunkirk – we see the alternative. Not mass redundancies, but managed restructuring. Ten year programmes of investment in new technologies like direct reduced iron and green hydrogen, preserving primary steel making for the future.

“To help us get to that future we need an intermediate goal. And that’s preventing blast furnace closure over the next 12 months. Buying us time for a change in the policy and politics at Westminster to build a bridge to a different future.

“If steel can survive until January, no Labour Government will want its demise to overshadow its first 100 days. So first we must appeal to Tata’s conscience to give us more time. The 45 day consultation period ends on March 17, a day after the new [Welsh] Labour leader is announced.

“The new First Minister’s first task should be to fly to Mumbai to speak directly to Tata’s Indian leadership. [Former First Minister] Carwyn Jones camped outside their Board meetings in 2016. We need that same energy now. All the better if the new FM has a bankable promise from Keir Starmer in his back pocket.

“If Tata remain implacable, we should offer to buy their Welsh assets for their current ‘book value’ of a dollar. They won’t want to do that as they don’t want the competition.

“That gives us three options. Option One is doing nothing. Option Two is literally buying time by guaranteeing losses for the coming financial year, up to a maximum say of £400m, maybe in return for a minority stake. Much of that could be drawn down through our borrowing powers over two successive years, with the remainder from the reserve and with a contribution from the local authority. A 30 year bond at 4-5% would cost no more than the tax receipts that would be lost through closure.

“If Tata refused, then we could threaten to pass emergency legislation to force the compulsory purchase of Tata’s Welsh assets. The Senedd’s lawyers have confirmed that nationalisation to save the Welsh steel industry could be within our competence. This would almost certainly be challenged by Tata but even this would give us an injunctive power to stave off immediate closure. And it could unlock a negotiated sale as a going concern that could help Welsh steel survive intact over the next crucial 12 months.

“These ideas are novel and untested. But in unprecedented situations that’s precisely what you need. They are not without risk. But neither is doing nothing.

“So here’s an appeal to the outgoing First Minister. Test these ideas today with those with experts to see if they might work. Ask your own lawyers. Ask the Mondragon co-operative’s consultancy [from the Basque Country], or the unions’ advisers Syndex.

“We may not have the power to save Welsh steel alone. But we do have the power to delay its demise.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
9 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeff
Jeff
19 days ago

Tread carefully. It is not beyond the means of Tata to remove vital infrastructure before moving out. Even flattening vital area’s. Does the Welsh government have the ability to deal with a scorched earth approach from Tata.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
19 days ago

Wow! Even the Tories yn y Senedd are sending the message to the masters of destruction (their masters down the road) that Cymru unanimously rejects their latest and greatest attempt to impoverish our nation. This is our Parliament acting as one, oh, as if it were the Parliament of an independent nation, to prevent a catastrophic event being imposed upon it from the outside. I’ll be interested to see what transpires from this because if anything positive does, the case for Independence is made on this one issue alone.

Jeff
Jeff
19 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Cons know they will lose a lot if they follow No10. Self interest.

Michael Davies
Michael Davies
18 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Yes, but how does this fit in with the Welsh Labours administration’s doomsday approach to environmental protection, Net Zero and CO2 reduction. For years they’ve continually demonised steel manufacturing at Port Talbot claiming it’s its biggest polluter whilst forcing TATA to import coal with inferior steel making qualities from other countries in the world. There are significant reserves of world renowned Welsh coal just up the road requiring the minimum of transport etc causing less overall impact on the environment. Just how does that fit in with the Welsh government’s confusing narrative on the environment and the future of manufacturing… Read more »

Mab
Mab
18 days ago

Why is no one angry that the coal mines in Wales that Tata use are being closed under Labour, when they are needed more than ever!!!

hdavies15
hdavies15
18 days ago
Reply to  Mab

Oh dear, you are asking awkward questions now. Drakeford will send you to the bottom of the pit with a one way ticket. Fascist regime down the Bay says “Coal is bad” so no arguing, no exploitation of scrubbing technology at processing plants, no well paid jobs for those who have to move on. But never mind someone will set up a leisure park or zipwire near you and you can get a min wage, flexible or zero hours contract job.

Last edited 18 days ago by hdavies15
Annibendod
Annibendod
18 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

“Er eu bod yn edrych, dy’n nhw ddim yn gweld; er eu bod yn gwrando, dy’n nhw ddim yn clywed nac yn deall.” Burning coal produces CO2. CO2 acidifies the oceans and causes mre infra red radiation to be retained within the atmosphere and Earth’s surface and oceans. This causes the thermal energy within the Earth’s climate systems to rise thus altering the long term climate with serious consequences globally. This is on top of the vast quantity of wildlife and habitat that humanity is eliminating by other means. “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten,… Read more »

Sikejsudjek
Sikejsudjek
18 days ago

We could easily be at war in the next few years. We must retain coal and steel. It’s not about money. It’s about survival.

Michael Davies
Michael Davies
18 days ago

Sadly I feel the Welsh government’s own green agenda and drive towards net zero doesn’t really support the continuation of high quality steel manufacture of the type currently found in Port Talbot. TATA are forced to import substandard, less efficient and significantly more environmentally harmful coal from Australia to produce steel in Wales yet just a few miles up the valley there is coal underground in abundance, however the Labour WAG’s overzealous Green-brigade will not allow TATA to use this source even if it is the best option for cleaner and less costly production of steel at the moment. Port… Read more »

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.