ABERAVON MP Hywel Francis has warned the UK Government that it needs to do more to protect the Welsh steel industry, following today’s announcement that Tata Steel is axing 600 jobs in South Wales, including 500 in Port Talbot.
He said: “The announcement of 500 redundancies at Tata Steel Port Talbot is grim news for all those local families directly affected, particularly so near to Christmas.
“The Government must do more to help energy- intensive industries like steel with their costs – other European countries assist their industries far more.”
Most of the 500 jobs that are going in Port Talbot are management and administrative posts, Tata says. In total, some 900 jobs are being axed around the UK, including the 600 in South Wales.
But the number 4 blast furnace at Margam is to be re-lit early in next year, as part of a £250 million investment programme, and 120 jobs will be created at a new hot strip rolling mill at Llanwern, Newport.
Dr Francis added: “Tata’s announcement that the number 4 blast furnace is to be re-lit early in 2013 is to be welcomed, and is an indication of Tata’s long term commitment to the plant.”
Tata said demand for steel in Europe had dropped by 25 per cent since 2007, and was forecast to fall by another 10 per cent this year.
Karl Kohler, chief executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “These restructuring proposals will help make our business more successful and sustainable, but the job losses are regrettable and I know this will be a difficult and unsettling time for the employees and their families affected.
“We will be working with our trade unions and government at a national and local level to ensure we provide them with as much assistance and support as possible.”
The Assembly Government said the cuts were “very disappointing news, and a massive blow to those who will be losing their jobs”.
A spokesman said: “The Welsh Government has a very strong relationship with the company, and officials will now work with Tata to establish a task force and identify what support we can provide to those affected.”
Aberavon AM David Rees said: “The announcement today by Tata steel of redundancies at its plants in Wales, including the works at Port Talbot, is hugely disappointing and a severe blow for those workers affected and their families.
“However, there is also a positive vision being announced today, in that blast furnace number 4 will be re-lit and will be in production alongside blast furnace number 5 early in the new year.”