Column: Tata, Port Talbot and Mumbai

Sioned Williams MS writes about the First Minister’s recent trip to Mumbai

The image shows a photograph of Sioned Williams' article on Tata, as it appeared in the South Wales Evening Post. It has been arranged on a dark green background with Sioned's headshot, name and title at the bottom of the image.

This article was originally published in South Wales Evening Post on Thursday 16 May 2024.


Tata, Port Talbot and Mumbai

With all the controversy surrounding the so-called “dodgy donations” accepted by the new First Minister of Wales, you’d be forgiven for missing the fact that he flew to Mumbai last week. Nothing controversial in meeting a company that’s announced 2,800 jobs losses and is ending Wales’s ability to make primary steel - except that the person he was meeting was in London the week prior, and it’s unclear whether Welsh Government has anything to offer Tata to make them change their minds.

Now, while I truly hope the First Minister's visit to India yields a positive result, the lack of any apparent plan from Welsh Government has been heartbreakingly frustrating.

It’s fair to say that the future of Tata Steel Port Talbot has been weighing heavy on many people’s minds, for a very long time.

The job losses don’t just impact the workforce in Port Talbot, but all the companies that rely on them. These local businesses – including shops, hospitality and contractors – employ thousands more people, and they need to know what their government is doing to help.

Because, while much of the economic power lies with Westminster, there are things that Welsh Government can do.

Firstly, Welsh Government must obtain the information from Tata which will indicate which jobs in the supply chain will be lost, so that these people can get access to all the support available.

Secondly, they need to explore every available route to save as many as possible of those thousands of jobs – both in terms of the jobs at Tata, and in terms of all the businesses that rely on the steel industry in Wales. Nothing should be off the table – including nationalisation of steel, something that Plaid Cymru has long called for.

Thirdly, they mustn’t just wait in the hope of a Labour Government getting in at Westminster, because by that time it will be too late and we will have lost the blast furnaces which will seal the fate of those workers.

Welsh Government has talked about support they are planning for the wider community, but my further request to them is that they need to ensure that those who are going to be affected are actually involved in those plans. The community has had so much done to it, with very little say, that it’s imperative that the community's voice is fully heard as it navigates this difficult future.

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