Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Wales' needs the powers to tackle the likes of Steel closurs.

 Talk about shutting the Stable door after the Horse has bloted.

It seems Economy Minister Edwina Hart will chair a taskforce which was set up following Tata Steel's announcement that 1,050 jobs will go across the UK.
Port Talbot will bear the brunt of these cuts, with 750 jobs going at the south Wales plant.

An action plan is set to be drawn up on how to help the workers affected.

We have seen this coming for a long time  and while I accept there would be a bigger outcry if the Assembly Government did nothing but as Leanne Wood pointed out on Channel 4 News the other day Valleys like the Rhondda have not recovered from the closure of the Coal mines in the 80's

With the decimation of other manufacturing Industries Wales is becoming a Nation of Call Centres and  I am not sure what a Task force can achieve '

Following the announcement, think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research said a further 1,200 jobs could be lost in Tata Steel's supply chain.
A meeting was held on Tuesday night for about 50 union representatives.
Martin Waters from the Community union described it as "very emotional".
During First Minister's Questions on Tuesday, Carwyn Jones said cutting business rates to help Tata was being considered, but global factors had contributed to the steel crisis.
Problems such as a glut of steel on the world market, a strong pound and high energy costs were all outside the Welsh government's control, he added.
At First Minister’s Questions in Cardiff Bay, Carwyn Jones revealed that the Welsh Government was asking for UK Government help to introduce an enterprise zone to give firms in Port Talbot business rate relief and tax breaks.

But  Only seven jobs each have been created at two of the current Welsh government's enterprise zones in the last year.

More than 1,000 jobs were created at the Cardiff and Deeside zones but just seven each at Ebbw Vale and St Athan, showing a mixed picture. Which does not fill me with confidence

Plaid Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas pressed for a Welsh Government-assisted joint venture to save the Port Talbot steelworks.and  called on the Welsh Government to explain why spending an estimated £1bn on the M4 relief road was more important than maintaining the steel plant at Port Talbot.
Asking what would need to be sacrificed for the plan, he said:

 “We might want to ask ourselves whether a new M4 or maintaining a steel plant in Margam is more important for the Welsh economy. I would suggest the latter.
“We need to have a very hard view on what we are likely to be spending our money on in the next five years and think about where our economy is going”.
He added: “It may be that Tata are not the slightest bit interested in this and I accept that, but I think it is still strange that the Welsh Government and the First Minister are not prepared even to go actually physically to India and put all these proposals to the company.”

Seeing this is Edwina Hart's pet project  it seems unlikely this will ever be considered.

All the Parties including the leader of the Welsh Conservatives  seem to have seem response and some kind of plan to the closures but is it not time we realised  that the Assembly Government lack of powers and insignificant makes it largely impotent to respond eve if it was to have the courage to adopt Gerald Holtham and Adam Price even some  options for the future of steel in Wales as outlined by them on Click on Wales. 

Until the Purse Strings and Powers are no longer  retained by Westminster where both Tory and Labour governments will intervene to save the Bankers and pander to the City of London we will be unable to tackle such disasters that have hit the workers of Port Talbot.

Independence for Wales may not have prevented the closure of our Steel Industry but it would mean that we could respond with something more effective than the obligatory  task force.

2 comments:

  1. I am really sorry about the loss of jobs in Port Talbot, very much so as someone whose connection to Wales comes from that area. Aberavon to be exact. Sadly I have to say that the only way to have actually saved both Port Talbot and in our case Dalzell in Motherwell is actually to have been Independent. Westminster cares not a jot, being so up the Banking and Share buying (clean) business. Well the forecast there is so good, not. I can only offer my sympathy, I wish there was more to be done.

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  2. Helena is right, an independent Scottish or Welsh Government would have acted to save steel jobs and the industry given how important it is to any economy, the Tories don’t understand or care.

    And as for Edwina Hart’s taskforce it’s no more than show, it’ll recommend the usual, money for the steelworkers to retrain for call centre work and Tesco’s and little else while the steel industry dies.

    But Carwyn Jones seemed unusually rattled by in the last 48 hours over the steel jobs losses on Monday when he would only speak to the welsh press, not Sky or Channel 4 news and then the latest chapter in the ongoing A&E recruitment issues as witness by his rude behaviour at FMQ’s yesterday. Perhaps it’s down to Labour being used to everyone rallying round at times of crisis when the Tories attack, but this time Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems aren’t playing ball and challenging Labour as well and they don’t like it at all.

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