Labour AMs seek clarity on steel making in their constituencies

Following recent reports that TATA steel could delay a decision on the sale of its UK business Aberavon’s AM, David Rees, and Llanelli’s AM, Lee Waters, met with the CEO of TATA Steel UK, Mr Belimdra Jha, to discuss the sale process and seek clarification on the reports that TATA may retain control of its steelmaking interests in Wales.  At the meeting Mr Rees and Mr Waters called for TATA to remove the uncertainty that exists within their communities on the future of the sales process and the subsequent anxiety amongst steelworkers and their families.

Mr Jha reassured the AMs that the steel giant isn’t playing games over the future of the company’s Welsh plants and that the decision by the TATA board on 29th March to sell the UK interests was still its focus.

Aberavon AM David Rees said “The current uncertainty on TATA’s intentions following published reports has created a loss of confidence by the workers and the unions in Tata, and there are all sorts of rumours flying around. It was important to invite Mr. Bimlendra Jha to come to the Senedd and meet with AMs from steel producing constituencies to discuss the current position and clarify the actions of TATA.  Steelworkers at Port Talbot and Trostre have been continuing to deliver on meeting targets and they deserve clarity on their future.”

“Mr Jha assured us that their prime objective is to sell their steel making business interests in Wales, as per the board’s instructions, and they are currently going through an intense process to find a buyer that can move the operations on with a plan that is economically viable. He also told us that Tata have been responsible owners and have every intention of being responsible sellers.  It is important to them to be sure that whoever buys their interests in steel making within Wales can find the investment needed to secure its future.”

Llanelli AM Lee Waters added “We told the head of Tata in the UK that steelworkers and their families, as well as the wider communities that depend on the steelworks, are living with great uncertainty and stress about their futures. We stressed that we need clarity about the future of the steelworks. We asked him whether Tata had changed its position and was considering holding on to the plants. Mr Jha told us that there has been no change in the position of the Tata board.”

“It was clear from the meeting that the local management of Tata are working to make the business attractive to potential buyers. In order to survive, UK steelmaking needs the cost of doing business in the UK reduced in order to help them compete against unfair competition from China. The Welsh Government has put money on the table with a clear offer of help. The UK Government have yet to make a concrete offer of support and they must now stop talking and start delivering.”

Mr Jha accepted that some stakeholders want Tata to change its position and keep the plants on. He indicated that he was obliged to put to the TATA board any proposal which can be considered as an economic benefit to the company, including one that may originate from TATA Steel UK itself but at this time he has no viable plan which he could present to the board.  TATA board is not due to meet to discuss this matter in the near future.