Tata job losses ‘avoidable’ if UK ministers engage with Welsh Government, Vaughan Gething claims
Wales’ Economy Minister has urged the UK Government to step in and “reverse” the job cuts at Tata Steel in Port Talbot which would see the loss of 2,500 jobs at the steel plant.
Vaughan Gething MS said the Welsh Government does not have the finances to step in and save the job losses at Tata Steel, which were announced last week, as part of plans by Tata Steel to produce greener steel.
However during a press conference, he claimed the job losses could be “avoidable” if there were more active discussions between the UK and Welsh governments.
He said: “Downing Street appears to have accepted from the start the notion that thousands of jobs needed to be lost within these communities”.
Tata Steel are investing £1.25bn at the site, but it would see the closure of two blast furnaces to make way for an electric one that requires fewer workers.
The UK Government invested £500m of taxpayers’ money to keep the plant open.
Mr Gething claimed that if Labour win the next election a £3bn green steel fund is “on the table to assist in a transition that is a generally just transition”.
He also said that it is hard to overstate how much the steel industry means to communities across Wales and that they are prepared to support the company in a just transition.
The UK Government said the investment has protected thousands of jobs from the alternative of a complete closure of Tata Steel. It also noted it offered a further £100 million for the retraining of staff who have lost their jobs.
However, Mr Gething said: “£100 million is not going to resolve the enormous economic harm that could be caused over the next 18 months.
The UK’s Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies MP responded that the £100 million fund “is enough”.
He said: “The actions of the UK Government have saved 5,000 jobs, which is 5,000 more than would have been saved if it had been left to the Labour party.”
Formal consultations between the two governments are yet to start.