Plaid Cymru has urged the Westminster Government to block the Tata Steel-ThyssenKrupp merger unless they give specific guarantees about the long term future of the Port Talbot plant.
The Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards MP, has urged the government to meet with two former rivals, Excalibur and Liberty steel, who have now joined forces to bid for Tata, and intervene if the proposed merger with ThyssenKrupp goes ahead unless there are specific guarantees about the long term future of Port Talbot.
The Plaid Cymru MP used a debate in Westminster Hall today to warn of ThyssenKrupp’s record, who in August this year announced a new aggressive cost cutting plan for its European operations through a series of plant closures. Mr Edwards stressed that Tata Steel’s strip business in Port Talbot is today making a profit and performing above the ambitious levels targeted in the local transformation plan put forward at the height of the crisis, but rejected by Tata’s board in Mumbai for being ‘overly ambitious’.
Commenting, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, Jonathan Edwards, said:
“Tata Steel’s strip business in Port Talbot is today making a profit and performing well above the ambitious targets put forward during the height of the crisis – targets that the Tata board in Mumbai rejected as over ambitious. This is an incredible achievement by the steel workers and all those involved.
“There are still concerns, however, that order books in the industry could soon take a turn for the worse next year, indicating once again the huge volatility of the industry and the fact that the next crisis could come sooner than anyone would hope. This is no time for governments in Westminster and Cardiff to take their eye off the ball.
“A report from Swansea University shows that Port Talbot can have a viable future once it is in the hands of an owner with a long-term vision, who will commit to, and invest in transformational change.
“One thing is certain about Port Talbot’s future, and that is that the proposed merger with ThyssenKrupp presents a real threat to the future of Port Talbot. The merger is not the committed, visionary owner Port Talbot needs.
“ThyssenKrupp has already announced a new aggressive cost cutting plan for its operations based on plant closures and as researchers at Swansea University have said, ‘Port Talbot could become a convenient sacrifice for them’. Its deeply concerning to me that the Secretary of State for Wales is on the record as saying the proposed merger is ‘encouraging’. It is not, and the Secretary of State for Wales should know this.
“The recent news that two former rivals Excalibur and Liberty steel have joined forces is to be welcomed. The bid would transform the Port Talbot plant enabling it to recycle scrap steel, increasing the plant’s ability to cope with fluctuations and volatility in the market.
“The UK Government must agree to meet with representatives from the Excalibur-Liberty bid and give the steelworkers a commitment that they will not allow the ThyssenKrupp merger to go through without a guarantee on the long-term future of the Port Talbot plant.”