Sioned Williams MS writes that the Tata Steel workers need reassurance that they will continue to be able to pay their bills this year.
This article was published in the South Wales Evening Post on Thursday 18 January 2024.
Happy New Year!
I never know at what point in the year it’s considered too late to wish people a happy new year, but what I do know is that I’ve already had to stand up in the Senedd and speak out for the thousands of people who face a hard new year, due the uncertainty surrounding the future of Port Talbot steel works.
As the workers employed at Tata Steel, their families, those in the town and its neighbouring communities look ahead, the picture is still one of terrible uncertainty, deep worry and concern.
There’s still no firm news, no clear indication of what this next year holds for those skilled workers and their families, and many are finding themselves now forced to look for other employment in order to be assured that they will be able to continue to pay their bills and provide for themselves and their families.
That’s why, when I was selected to ask the first question of the Economy Minister of the year, I made sure that I asked him for an update on the situation.
Unfortunately, while the Minister confirmed that conversations had taken place between Welsh Government and the UK Government, he was unable to provide any real detail about what Welsh Government are doing to save those jobs and retain that skilled workforce in the Port Talbot area.
Always the answer from Welsh Government is that Wales needs to wait for a different UK Government, but my concern is that, whatever the colour of Westminster, there’s little indication that Wales’ needs will be heard.
Even if a new UK Government signals a change in fortunes for the workers, can they wait until a General Election, when some are already seeking alternative work right now?
While their hands are tied in so many ways by Westminster, Welsh Government are not without power to act now. At the very least, they could be more forthcoming with the details of the conversations they’ve had to date. But what we need from them, is a plan for how they intend to save those jobs and retain that skilled workforce in the Port Talbot area.
And they need to share this with urgency.