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Tata Steel job cuts: Government 'must do more for industries'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

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THE political production line went into overtime following yesterday’s announcement.

MPs and AMs of all political hues reacted to the news almost as soon as it became public.

Aberavon MP Hywel Francis rued it as grim news for all families affected, particularly so near to Christmas.

“Tata management and unions have worked hard over the years to secure major investment at Port Talbot,” said Dr Francis.

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“Tata’s announcement that the No 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.

“But the Government must do more to help energy intensive industries like steel with their costs — other European countries assist their industries far more.

“The Government should also address the high business rates rail charges faced by the steel industry, and place greater emphasis on infrastructure programmes as they do in France and Germany.”

Both he and Aberavon AM David Rees said they would be working closely with management, unions and government to secure the future of steel making in Port Talbot.

Mr Rees said: “The Welsh Government has a good relationship with Tata Steel and will work with it to support those affected by this decision.

“It is now for the UK government to take positive action to reduce the impact of UK energy costs and the carbon tax on these industries, so that they can compete with their European competitors on a level playing field.”

Plaid Cymru’s economy spokesman Alun Ffred Jones called for retraining and support to get workers back into employment.

“Over decades, UK Governments of whichever party have not invested in a manufacturing strategy and were heavily criticised for this recently by Lord Heseltine.

“The UK Government continues to fail industrial regions such as Wales. The Welsh Government should take on job-creating powers rather than pass the blame for the economic conditions.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat regional AM Peter Black said: “This is a hammer-blow for local families and for the local economy.

“Not only is Tata Steel far and away the largest private-sector employer in Port Talbot and the surrounding area, but the loss of purchasing power represented by these jobs will be felt by other businesses in the region.”

Mr Black said the Welsh Government must re-double its efforts to come up with a proper strategy to encourage job creation in the manufacturing sector both in and around Port Talbot and throughout Wales.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives have called for urgent Welsh Government talks with steel giant Tata.

Shadow Minister for Business Nick Ramsay AM called the job losses in Port Talbot and Llanwern a bitter blow.

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