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Unemployment falls again in Wales

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Unemployment in Wales has fallen again to 4.1 per cent - down 10,000 on the last quarter.

The total number of unemployed in Wales now stands at 63,000 - down 35,000 from a year ago.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the Welsh employment market is "rapidly closing the gap" on the rest of the UK.

UK-wide, a total of 1.63 million people are unemployed - a fall of 39,000 over the quarter and 190,000 down compared with a year ago, giving a jobless rate of 4.9%.

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Unite Wales calls for Ford to “end the silence”

Unite Wales has called on Ford to "end the silence" over the future of the Bridgend engine plant.

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This follows Ford's announcement that the production of the new Dragon engine is to be halved but the company insists production at the plant 'remains healthy'.

Bridgend Engine plant has a world class workforce and the plant deserves to have a long term secure future. Ford must end the silence and set out how it envisages Bridgend playing a key role in its global production strategy. Unite will never roll over and accept the slow demise and ultimate death of the plant. We are calling upon Ford, at the very highest levels of the company, to talk with us about how we can work together to secure a sustainable way forward for the plant, that builds upon its enormous strengths.

– Andy Richards, Unite Wales Secretary

Ford says it will continue to constantly review capacity and demand and 'deal with the reality' of its business and market competition, taking 'whatever action needed to build a vibrant and sustainably profitable Ford business in Europe'.

New jobs for Bridgend

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An investment and expansion at Zimmer Biomet’s Bridgend site has been announced. It will create 39 new jobs and safeguard 50 more

The £2.5m investment - backed by Welsh Government finance will create a European Centre of Excellence for Porous Coating that allows the company to specialize in technologies used in the manufacture of orthopaedic implants.

Zimmer Biomet’s UK operation employs more than 800 people from all over South Wales at Bridgend’s Waterton Industrial Estate, where it manufactures a range of hip and knee replacement products.

It is a key investment that secures the long term sustainable growth of the business in Wales and ensures it will continue to pay a prominent role within this global organisation.

It is an exciting time for Zimmer Biomet’s Bridgend facility which is experiencing significant growth and high demand for its products. This expansion will increase its capacity, capability and competitiveness and create highly skilled well paid jobs.

– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister

Drop in frontline prison officers amid rising violence

The number of frontline officers working in public-sector prisons across Wales and parts of England has fallen over the last year amid soaring levels of violence behind bars, according to a leading penal reform charity.

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Statistics seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform show that there were 14,689 frontline officers in England and Wales in June 2016 - down from 15,110 a year earlier.

Officer numbers at Cardiff, Swansea and Usk/Prescoed have all seen a drop.

Previous research by the Howard League has shown how prison officer numbers were cut by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2013. However, the prison population across England and Wales rose from 83,796 to 85,130 – which the Howard League say is putting greater pressure on the system.

These figures show how reductions in staffing and problems in recruiting and retaining new staff are feeding the problems behind bars.The vast majority of those sent to prison will be released back to the community and so it matters to all of us what happens to people when they are sent to prison.

Throwing someone into a raging torrent of violence, drugs and despair is not going to help that person steer away from crime. On the contrary, it will feed more crime and create yet more pressure on the failing prisons.

– Andrew Neilson, Howard League for Penal Reform

Frontline officer numbers at Welsh prisons:

  • Cardiff Prison - 148 (200 in 2013)
  • Swansea Prison - 106 (110 in 2013)
  • Usk/Prescoed - 59 (60 in 2013)

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said that safe prisons are "fundamental to the proper functioning of our justice system".

Our dedicated prison staff, who support tens of thousands of prisoners every day, are vital to the safe running of our prisons.

We have recruited 2,900 staff over the last 12 months and are taking significant action to make sure we have appropriate staffing levels.

– Ministry of Justice spokeswoman

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What Brexit means for the next generation

For thousands of young people in Wales, European money has helped them build the skills they need for their career, thanks to funding for apprenticeships and paid work experience.

Penny Allen helps students wanting a career in design Credit: ITV Wales

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, attention has turned to how these projects will run in the future.

Watch Megan Boot's report:

Union 'encouraged' after Business Secretary visit to Port Talbot

The new Business Secretary has met workers at Port Talbot steel plant which still has doubts over its long-term future.

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Steel giant Tata has halted plans to sell the huge site and is working on keeping its UK business as part of a joint venture with German conglomerate Thyssen Krupp.

Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, visited the Port Talbot works yesterday and met workers and union officials.

I am encouraged that Greg Clark has met with steelworkers in his first week on the job. He will have left today in no doubt that Community will keep the pressure on this Government to keep their promises to protect the steel industry.The new Secretary of State clearly understands the scale of the challenge still facing the industry, but his words to steelworkers today must be followed by firm actions to help save their jobs. By visiting Port Talbot, he will have seen first-hand that the highly skilled workforce is the foundation on which any success for this industry will be built.

– Roy Rickhuss, Community union

Plaid Cymru AM "deeply disappointed" at news of Tata sale suspension

Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price has said he is "deeply disappointed" at the news that steel giant Tata is to suspend its sales process in the UK.

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On Friday it was announced that the planned sale of the Port Talbot plant would be halted, after talks with potential bidders in Mumbai.

The company released a statement saying that they will look at "alternative and more sustainable" solutions for the European part of their business, adding they are now talking to "strategic players" in the steel industry.

I am very concerned at the news of the suspension of the sales process and am deeply disappointed that the Wales-led management and worker buyout will not be able to go to the next stage of the process.

We have heard speculation that one of the alternative solutions is a potential link-up with German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.

We do not believe that this would be in the long-term interests of the Welsh and UK steel industries.

Indeed if this speculation proves to be accurate and unless an explicit long-term commitment is made to the future of operations in Wales, then we will call on the UK Government to initiate a temporary full nationalisation of Tata's UK operations in order to continue with the sales process.

Merger with the German steelmaker would very likely lead to the closure of the Port Talbot steelworks and the concentration of activity at Ijmuiden, and must be opposed at all costs.

– Adam Price, Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy
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