Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN, has called on the UK Government to take action to stabilise and safeguard the Welsh steel industry after Tata Steel confirmed that 750 jobs will be lost at its Port Talbot plant with another 100 going at its Trostre and Llanwern sites.
He has also urged the UK Government to apply to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, as a matter of urgency, so that assistance can be provided to support those workers who will be losing their livelihoods as a result of the announcement.
Mr Vaughan, a former Leader of Neath Port Talbot County Council, the area which plays host to the Port Talbot site said:
“This is a desperate blow to the Welsh steel industry which has been under pressure for some time and I have great sympathy for those families and local communities that will be affected by the news.”
Steel provides the backbone for our manufacturing industry here in Wales and the knock-on effects will be widespread. A combination of high energy costs, a weak pound and the failure to address the dumping of cheap Chinese steel onto the market has led to where we are today and the UK Government’s inaction and free market ideology has been a hugely contributing factor.
They now need to take strong, long-term actions to protect the Welsh steel industry, help increase its competitiveness and allow it to compete on a level playing field. Today is by no means the end of steelmaking in Wales but unless the Government takes a more proactive role then the problems will continue. They can provide emergency financial assistance, investment in research & development projects as well as training and environmental efficiency schemes in a similar manner to that which other European governments are already doing without going anywhere near contravening State Aid rules.
It is not a case of them being unable to intervene, it is a case of them being unwilling to intervene.
It is also important that everything is done to support those workers who have lost their jobs following today’s news. I have written to David Cameron asking that he ensures that an application is made immediately to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund so that workers can access help and assistance to get back on their feet.
Sadly, his government has failed to so when other steel plants in the UK have been under threat but it would be a dereliction of duty were he to maintain that stance when hundreds of working people will now face some very difficult times.”