- June 8, 2016
- Posted by: Jayne Bryant AM
- Category: Latest News
This afternoon Carwyn Jones, First Minister of the Welsh Assembly, made a statement on the ongoing situation with the sale of Tata Steel business. Working for a successful outcome for all aspects of the Steel Industry in Wales is the current top priority of the Welsh Government.
I will do everything I can to support this, please get in touch if you wish to discuss it further. The statement is below.
THE WELSH GOVERNMENT
Update on Tata Steel
8 June 2016
Llywydd, this Assembly was recalled during the pre-election period, partly at my request, but essentially to recognise the intense concern of the steel communities across Wales and, indeed, all of us about the future of Tata’s plants. Since then I have had many discussions with Tata, the UK Government, trade unions and potential buyers and investors. Today, I wish to update you on the state-of-play and the progress being made.
Members know that I went to Mumbai a couple of weeks ago to continue my dialogue with Tata about the sales process. Throughout this process my primary concern has been for the Tata workforce, the steel communities and the need to secure a long-term and sustainable steel industry for the whole Tata operation in Wales. This is the case I have pressed consistently and directly with Tata’s senior leaders.
Members will understand very readily that commercial confidentiality limits what can be said in any detail but I can confirm that our discussions have been constructive and significant. Tata’s position remains that its priority is to conduct a sales process that secures a positive outcome. Tata is now in the process of evaluating the offers it has received.
Whatever decision is reached by Tata, we stand ready to support any bidders going through to the next stage which will see jobs and sustainable steel production remain in Wales.
Last Wednesday, we saw the launch of British Steel, following Greybull Capital’s purchase of Tata’s European long products division, primarily based in Scunthorpe. This offers some solid grounds for confidence that there is a viable future for steel making for Wales and the UK more widely – and that’s what the Welsh Government, and indeed this Assembly, has been saying all along.
This morning, the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure attended his first meeting of the UK Government’s Steel Council. The work of the Steel Council is being taken forward through four working groups who are considering not only how we respond to the current steel crisis, but the long term sustainability of steel making. Our Officials are in daily contact with the UK Government and also attend the Steel Council’s four work streams.
In the meantime, the work of our Tata Steel Task Force continues – it held its most recent meeting on 9 May. Support and advice is being provided by Job Centre Plus working closely with Tata, Careers Wales, the Welsh Government and other partners. There has been a positive response to awareness sessions with about 300 attending so far. A Jobs Fair was held on 28 April, attended by 38 high calibre employees – planning for a further Jobs Fair is underway. Union representatives were positive about the support provided to date.
The Task Force recognises there will be a need for continuing communication with former employees over the coming months as some individuals may not want to immediately take up offers of support. Further advice sessions are planned for June and July and these will be opened up to the supply chain as appropriate.
The Task Force’s Work Streams also continue their work actively. The Health Work Stream is assessing evidence on what impact there will be on primary and community services. Community workshops are also planned to provide information about the support available to those affected by redundancy and wider family members.
The Training and Skills and Business and Supply Chain Work Streams are working closely together, also linking into the work of the Health Work Stream. This is helping to ensure full consideration is being given to support for individuals working in the supply chain as well as Tata’s employees.
Business Wales is currently working with 60 of Tata’s key supplier companies on a one to one basis and bringing in wider support, including skills and training support as necessary.
On procurement, we are continuing to analyse the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan, which provides visibility of our priority programme and projects, to establish a forecast of future steel requirements. This will be published shortly to provide clarity on future steel requirements. Work is also well progressed to strengthen our procurement policy which will clarify the importance of opening up opportunities for UK steel suppliers.
In our Transport contract documents we have pushed matters still further where the use of UK steel is concerned. Not only do we state that the Contractor must ensure that materials used by them and their sub-contractors comply with the requirements of BES 6001 (Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products) but we have also explicitly stated that there is an expectation from the Welsh Government that the Contractor will not use “dumped” steel from oversees markets for any steel used on the project.
Moving to other areas of support, we’ve delivered the Enterprise Zone in Port Talbot. This follows helpful discussions with Neath Port Talbot Council, the business community and the Tata Steel Task Force, drawing on the expertise of the private sector through the Enterprise Zone Board Chaired by Roger Maggs, whose special contribution I would like to note publicly.
Steel workers do their work in tough conditions and a secure pension is a vital benefit. The UK Government launched a consultation on 26 May on options for providing security for the British Steel Pension Scheme. Pensions are not devolved but I am absolutely clear that the integrity of the pension scheme must be protected and the Trustees, Tata and the UK Government must work together to secure a fair and proper outcome for scheme members.
This Government remains absolutely committed to doing everything possible to secure a successful outcome to Tata’s sales process. This is a priority for all of us and I am grateful for the substantial cross party support for our steel communities. I will, of course, continue to keep Members updated.