Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Business, the Economy and Finance Adam Price AM has called for independent advice for steel workers in Wales now that it has emerged that there is more than one deal.
During a full session of the Assembly yesterday, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy Ken Skates confirmed that Excalibur’s bid – which has been supported by the Welsh Government – continues to be a live bid.
This follows Reuters reports that city financier Edi Truell is also fronting a bid for the British Steel Pensions Scheme without cutting benefits.
Adam Price AM said that in light of these developments it was “more important than ever” that steel workers were given adequate support in order to enable them to make an informed choice as to which deal represents the best settlement for them.
He reiterated his call for Tata to strengthen its offer to meet the very real concerns expressed by steel workers.
Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price AM said, “As news of two alternative deals emerge, this represents a clear shift in the dynamic of the situation facing steel workers in Wales.
“It appears that Excalibur’s bid, which has been bankrolled by the Welsh Government, continues to be a live bid. This is alongside the British Steel Pensions Scheme bid fronted by Edi Truell as reported by Reuters.
“This is contrary to the Welsh Government’s claim that there is only one deal on the table.
“Workers have contacted us to say they want independent advice to help them decide what the best way forward is for them.
“This is more important than ever, now that it transpires that there is more than one deal on the table.
“In light of these developments, Tata steel now would be very wise to strengthen their offer to meet the very real concerns over pension, investment and employment security expressed by steel workers.”
The debate also heard from North Wales regional AM Llyr Gruffydd, who spoke up for the contribution made by Shotton steelworkers. “As the AM for North Wales, it’s important to remember that this is about more than Port Talbot,” said Llyr Gruffydd AM.
“The last time I visited Shotton steelworks last year, the cloud hanging over the entire Tata enterprise had extended even to one of its most consistently profitable and innovative plants – where 700 workers produce cutting-edge materials and finished steel that is exported across the world.
“Despite producing profits for the past decade, steelworkers in Shotton have not seen a pay rise for the past five years. Despite the contribution they make to the company, many of them feel that a gun is being held to workers’ heads when it comes to pensions.
“This pension deal is based on a short-term promise. We have no guarantees that Port Talbot will not be under threat again in 5 years or less and the workers, in the meantime, will be leaving with a poorer pension.
“Shotton had its meltdown moment in 1980, when the biggest redundancy announcement in a single day in Western Europe saw 6,500 steelworkers lose their jobs. The economic devastation that caused for Shotton, Deeside and the whole of Flintshire lasted for a generation. That must not happen to Port Talbot, a community similarly built on steel and equally dependent.
“I am optimistic for the future of Shotton steelworks, somewhere that’s adapted and innovated since those dark days. I’m equally hopeful that the deal the workforce obtain in terms of wages and deferred wage – pensions – will be the right one for a brighter future.”