Polici­tians seek clar­ity over pos­si­ble sale of plant

Llanelli Star - - NEWS -

LO­CAL politi­cians met with Tata Steel last month in a bid to get clar­ity and as­sur­ances over mount­ing spec­u­la­tion that the po­ten­tial Tata Steel-ThyssenKru­pp joint ven­ture will lead to the sale of Tata Steel’s Trostre Plant in Llanelli.

The meet­ing was trig­gered by me­dia re­ports that Euro­pean Union’s com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­i­ties are look­ing at whether the po­ten­tial Tata Steel-ThyssenKru­pp joint ven­ture will lead to a lack of com­pe­ti­tion in the steel pack­ag­ing sec­tor.

If the EU in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cludes that the joint ven­ture would limit com­pe­ti­tion in the steel pack­ag­ing sec­tor, then it is pos­si­ble that pack­ag­ing busi­nesses, such as the Trostre plant, would have to be sold.

MPs Nia Grif­fith and Stephen Kin­nock, AM David Rees AM and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of AM Lee Wa­ters raised con­cerns that any sale of Trostre could have a dam­ag­ing ef­fect on the lo­cal econ­omy and work­force, not least be­cause a sig­nif­i­cant vol­ume of rolled steel is sup­plied to Trostre from Port Tal­bot ev­ery year. The pos­si­ble sale of Trostre there­fore raises di­rect con­cerns about the Trostre plant it­self but poses very se­ri­ous ques­tions about the knock-on ef­fect for Port Tal­bot.

On Wed­nes­day, April 10, the steel trade unions is­sued a state­ment ex­press­ing their deep­en­ing con­cern re­gard­ing the joint ven­ture. The politi­cians made it clear that they stand four-square be­hind the unions’ state­ment.

In the meet­ing, the politi­cians made crys­tal clear that, while they were still op­ti­mistic about the joint ven­ture be­ing a suc­cess, they can­not sup­port any move that puts lo­cal jobs at risk or risks the longterm fu­ture of the steel in­dus­try in South Wales. Tata Steel agreed to keep MPs in­formed about how the talks with the EU de­velop.

Nia Grif­fith, MP for Llanelli said: “This is a very wor­ry­ing time for ev­ery­one at Trostre, and that’s why I was anx­ious to con­vey our very real con­cerns about the joint ven­ture and to stress that if it re­ally does come down to sell­ing off Trostre, then Tata Steel must se­cure a gen­uine long-term fu­ture for the plant.”

Lee Wa­ters, AM for Llanelli, said: “There is a real will to en­sure a com­pet­i­tive fu­ture for Trostre who­ever the owner is. It’s clear that we need to press the com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­i­ties to en­sure that if they force Trostre to be put up for sale, it is on a firm foot­ing and able to com­pete in a chang­ing mar­ket­place.”

“We know that Trostre is a prof­itable plant with a loyal work­force and com­mit­ted lo­cal man­age­ment. With con­tin­ued in­vest­ment there’s no rea­son that Trostre can’t be a part of Wales’s steel mak­ing in the fu­ture. So if we do see a sale as part of a merger, we need Tata as the cur­rent owner to act re­spon­si­bly, mak­ing sure the plant can be suc­cess­ful over the long term, and re­main a key em­ployer in Llanelli.”

Stephen Kin­nock, MP for Aber­avon said: “It is now up to Tata Steel to de­liver on these prom­ises by tak­ing ac­tion to en­sure pro­duc­tion at Port Tal­bot does not be­come a vic­tim of the joint ven­ture.”

Pic­ture: Rob Browne

There are new fears over the fu­ture of Tata’s steel­works at Trostre, Llanelli.

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