Policitians seek clarity over possible sale of plant
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.”
There are new fears over the future of Tata’s steelworks at Trostre, Llanelli.