Political leaders meet with staff and union bosses over Tata future in Shotton


Jamie Nield-Siddall and David Humphreys

ON THE 36th anniversary of the day 6,500 people lost their jobs at Shotton steel, community leaders have met with workers and union bosses to discuss how to protect the current workforce.

Visting the under threat Tata Steel site, Flintshire Council leader Aaron Shotton said he believes there is a future for the steel industry in the town - and warned that they must not turn their backs on the situation.

Cllr Shotton joined Alyn and Deeside MP and AM Mark Tami and Carl Sergeant, Ken Skates AM and Hannah Blythyn, the Welsh Labour assembly candidate for Delyn, as they visited the site.

More than 1,000 jobs are at risk at Tata Steel’s Deeside operation after the India-based company issued the bombshell announcement that it was looking at selling all of its UK locations.
The meeting surrounding the plant’s future took place behind closed doors.

But following the meeting Cllr Shotton told the Leader that workers were concerned
about the future, but also remained hopeful the site could continue to operate as a separate business.

He said he heard stories of people from the workforce who were on the verge of buying houses, but were uncertain about making such decisions as their jobs may face the axe.

“People are unsure and worried about what do they do next,” he said.

“There is a view in there as well that it is important to see that there is a future for this site.

"They are struggling because the focus is all on Port Talbot at the moment.

“We have to see Shotton Steel as being profitable and it needs to be looked at as a separate business and there has to be an urgent contingency plan to save this site.”

Cllr Shotton added: “This site is a success story and has turned itself around from the dark days of the 1980s.

“We must not turn our backs on it now. I think there is a future for Shotton, but it will take political will with everyone working together.”

AM Mr Sargeant said that the Shotton site is a “proud success story” for the region and a “profitable steelworks that provides high quality employment for hundreds of people.” 

His constituency colleague Mr Tami added: “Shotton steelworks is a world leader and employs a huge number of highly skilled people. 

“They and their families deserve more than warm words from the UK Government, they deserve action. 

“We can’t allow to happen in the coming weeks what the Tories did to Shotton in 1980.”

Yesterday the UK government ruled out nationalising the steel industry to tackle the threat of thousands of job losses after Prime Minister David Cameron admitted there were no guarantees of resolving the current crisis.

Mr Cameron chaired a brief meeting of ministers in Downing Street to discuss the shock decision by Tata to sell its UK assets, including the giant steelworks at Port Talbot in South Wales.

A Labour petition calling for Parliament to be recalled had passed the 100,000 mark in just one day, with a new signature every second.

Mr Cameron said the government was “doing everything it can” to resolve the steel crisis, but nationalisation was not the right answer.

He described the situation in Port Talbot as being of “deep concern” adding there were “no guarantees of success”.

The Welsh Government will also reconvene on Monday with First Minister Carwyn Jones set to make a statement before AM.

He yesterday said Tata needs “months not weeks” for the sale of the firm.

Tata Steel said conditions such as global oversupply of steel, significant increase in third world country exports into Europe, high manufacturing costs, continued weakness in domestic market demand in steel and a volatile currency had led to its decision.

A spokesman previously said: “These factors are likely to continue into the future and have significantly impacted the long term competitive position of the UK operations in spite of several initiatives undertaken by the management and the workers at the business in recent years.

“Following the strategic view taken by the Tata Steel Board regarding the UK business, it has advised the board of its European holding company, Tata Steel Europe, to explore all options for portfolio restructuring, including the potential divestment of Tata Steel UK in whole or in parts.

“Given the severity of the funding requirement in the foreseeable future, the Tata Steel Europe board will be advised to evaluate and implement the most feasible option in a time bound manner.”

The UK Government has called on Tata to give enough time for buyers to be found for its UK business in an attempt to save thousands of jobs.”

Hannah Blythyn, Labour Assembly candidate for Delyn who served for several years as a Unite the Union campaigner for workers’ rights, added: “The Tories let down the steelmaking heartlands of North East Wales in the 1980s. We can’t allow them to do the same again. 

“Ministers in London need to stop talking and to take immediate measures to keep plants like Shotton operating. This plant emerged from the ashes of the 1980s to succeed against the odds. Its success cannot be ruined by UK Government inaction.” 

During the discussion with workers and union leaders, the Welsh Labour politicians committed to fighting for Shotton’s future and the continued presence of a steel family within the UK. 

Deputy minister and AM for Clwyd South Ken Skates added that steel making in North East Wales once boasted an “incredible wealth but “steadily in the 1980s Shotton and Brymbo were undermined, shrunk and closed.”

“It was only because of the skills and commitment of the remaining workforce, along with the determination of former MP Barry Jones, that the Shotton site remains open and successful today.”

See full story in the Leader

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