Save Our Steelworks: 'Disgrace that Minister hasn't visited Shotton steel plant yet'

Reporter:

Owen Evans

THE Business Secretary has been branded a “disgrace” for not coming to Shotton to explain how he will safeguard jobs in the region.

Community leaders have urged Sajid Javid, who has faced increasing criticism over his handling of the crisis gripping the steel industry, to come to Shotton to explain how he will help the region.

Mr Javid, who cut short a trip to Australia following the announcement from Tata Steel that it would sell its UK operations, visited the Port Talbot site on Friday but is yet to make any visit to the Shotton site.

 

Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sergeant said: “I’m calling on Sajid Javid to come to Shotton and tell my constituents what he’s doing to safeguard their livelihoods.

“It’s a disgrace that he hasn’t been to Shotton yet or made contact with the plant.

“These are important jobs for my constituents and they will want him to come and tell them what practical measures the UK Government is taking to protect them.”

Flintshire Council’s leader Aaron Shotton also pressed Mr Javid to come to the area.

He said: “It was a suggestion I raised with trade unions at Tata Steel during a meeting on Thursday which I attended that I think it is important that we urge Sajid Javid alongside Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns to come and visit the plant and understand what is a profitable plant and offer their support and action to save the local industry.”

Speaking before Mr Javid’s meeting in Port Talbot with steelworkers, Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards said: “Steelworkers at Port Talbot and across Tata Steel will want to know just exactly what Sajid Javid intends to do to safeguard their industry, their livelihoods and their communities.

“So far all they have received is tea and sympathy from afar with no real concrete solutions for the industrial crisis facing the nation.

“He needs to look workers in the eye, not just at Port Talbot, but at sites across Tata Steel from Shotton and Llanwern, to Rotherham and Corby and say your Government backs you.

“A failure to do so will leave workers feeling his visit to Port Talbot is nothing more than an empty PR stunt and intensify the need for David Cameron to take personal control in securing a future for the UK steel industry.”

Mr Javid insisted the Government is on the side of workers and said: “I'm going to Port Talbot to meet staff and management, who are understandably extremely anxious about their future.

“I will listen to them and I want to reassure them myself that the Government is on their side in working hard to achieve a long-term solution for them, for the region and for the wider UK steel industry.

“While we can’t change the status of the global steel market, we can and are playing a positive role in securing a sustainable future.”

The Government is ready to provide support to clinch a deal to save the Port Talbot steelworks, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Mr Javid said he believed there was time to find a buyer for the South Wales plant and the other UK assets of Tata Steel, which include Shotton.

“Tata will issue an offer document very soon. Alongside that, the UK Government know – I’ve known for a while – that we’re also going to have to offer support to clinch that buyer and give that steel plant a long-term, viable future,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show yesterday.

While he said he did not believe that nationalising the loss-making steel producer was a solution to its problems, he insisted he was ruling nothing out to find a deal.

“I don’t think nationalisation is a solution to this. Having said that, I also think it wouldn’t be prudent to rule anything out at this stage, but I think that nationalisation is rarely an answer in these situations,” he said.

The Government’s aim, he said, was to find a buyer for the whole of Tata's UK business.

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