The “devastating” job losses at Tata Steel in Port Talbot make the case for a just transition to decarbonisation, Plaid Cymru has said.
At least 3,000 jobs will go at Tata Steel in Port Talbot after the Westminster government offered £500m to Tata Steel to help the company switch from blast furnaces to less polluting electric arc furnaces (EAF).
Plaid Cymru’s Luke Fletcher said decarbonisation should not be at the “expense of workers”. and said the company alongside both the Westminster and Welsh Governments should invest in “retraining and reskilling programs” so that workers could transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking. He accused them of throwing “highly skilled jobs and hardworking people” on the “scrapheap”.
The Plaid Cymru member said the priority should be “building a sustainable future for themselves and their communities”.
Plaid Cymru members for South Wales West Luke Fletcher and Sioned Williams said,
“The potential job losses at Tata’s Port Talbot plant will have a devastating impact on not only on the people of Port Talbot and its neighbouring communities but on the local and national economy. Our solidarity is with the workers at this time and we stand ready to support those who need it.
Luke Fletcher MS, who is also Plaid Cymru’s economy spokesperson added,
“This is exactly why we need a just transition at the forefront of any decisions made regarding the future of this vital industry.
“We are looking at the biggest challenge that is going to face the steel industry for a generation in terms of needing to decarbonise, but this cannot be at the expense of the very people who keep our steel industry going – any compulsory redundancies would be a hammer blow for Port Talbot and for Wales.
“Instead of discarding skilled steelworkers, Tata – a company with global revenues in excess of £100bn – should work more collaboratively with the Westminster and Welsh Governments to invest in retraining and reskilling programs to enable these workers to transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking, not throw these highly skilled jobs and hardworking people on the scrapheap. We should support them in building a sustainable future for themselves and their communities.
“It really is possible to have a competitive steel industry here in Wales with a significantly reduced carbon emission rate. But it needs Tata and both UK and Welsh governments to show that they are serious about meeting this challenge head on. There are already workable solutions in the world that incorporate carbon capture, utilisation and storage.
“In light of the deal struck between TATA and UK Government, what is disgraceful is the lack of communication with Welsh Government as well as the workforce. What workers face, as highlighted by both GMB and Community, is a workforce reduction programme forced on them without consultation which is wholly unacceptable and completely disrespectful to a workforce that has given everything to the plant.