Labour calls for Tata to make 'no irreversible decisions' before election

First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething paid a visit to Tata Steel in Port Talbot which is reported as making losses of £1 million a day. Credit: PA

Labour has called for Tata Steel to make "no irreversible decisions" to be prior to the General Election next month.

First Minister Vaughan Gething met with management and trade unions in Port Talbot today in an effort to keep iron and steelmaking going at the site.

"We're interested in winning an argument for the future, the future of this workforce, but more than that, the future of our industrial base, and future in Wales and Britain," Mr Gething said.

"That's why we want steel production to remain here in Wales in significant numbers, and to manage the transition to green, so it'll be good for the economy, good for the company, and good for local workers."

In April, Tata Steel confirmed it is shutting its furnaces in Port Talbot after rejecting a last-minute union plea to change its plans.

Nearly 2,800 jobs are expected to be lost if the plans go ahead.

Several factors are said to have led to the company's decision, with financial losses amounting to £1 million a day a key factor, according to Tata Steel.

Unions are opposed to the plans to close both blast furnaces this year before switching to a greener form of production which needs fewer workers.

Construction on a new £1.25bn electric arc furnace, which melts scrap steel, is expected to begin in Port Talbot during the summer of 2025.

Jo Stevens said today that she was "convinced" that progress could be made and called for Tata Steel not to switch off the blast furnaces.

"We want them to look at the union plan again, we want to talk to them, they know that we have our green steel fund ready to go, that will be there to support Welsh steel workers and steel workers across the United Kingdom to ensure a smooth transition to decarbonised steel," she said.

Labour has committed to invest £3 billion into the UK's steel industry.

Mr Reynolds, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary also said that the party would pledge more than the £500m offered by the Conservatives to keep steel production in the area.

"Our request is that there are no irreversible decisions made before 4 July and that the company negotiates with us, with our Welsh Government colleagues, with the trade unions, because there is a better deal that can be done," he said.

At the moment, one blast furnace is set to close by the end of June and the other by the end of September.

Vaughan Gething and Jonathan Reynolds in Port Talbot Credit: PA

Speaking on behalf of the Community Union, Roy Rickhuss thanked the Labour party for "stepping up" to the challenges the steel industry face.

"Labour’s pledge of £3 billion for our steel industry and Johnny Reynolds' meeting with our members today demonstrates that Labour has a bold vision for our steel industry, one that will place the UK economy and workers at its heart."

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, accused the Labour government of having an "atrocious record" in relation to Welsh steel.

"The Labour Welsh Government haven’t put forward a single penny since 2019. Meanwhile, the UK Conservative Government have provided £80 million for education, retraining and skills and have put half a billion on the table to protect jobs and support Tata."

Tata is proposing major restructuring plans at its Port Talbot plant Credit: PA

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Economy and Energy, Luke Fletcher MS said that Wales’ economy is being held back by Westminster parties.

"From thousands of good paying and highly skilled jobs at risk in south Wales, to Westminster’s failure to give Wales the powers we need to be in charge of our own economic destiny – we know this isn’t as good as it gets.

"Plaid Cymru’s Welsh Green New Deal sets out Plaid Cymru’s exciting vision for Wales’ green economy. Not only do we set out plans to safeguard communities in south Wales from thousands of job losses in the steel industry, but we have an ambition to create rewarding, meaningful and fair work emerging in the green and net-zero sector to build a thriving economy.

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