As news was announced that Tata Steel plan to close Port Talbot steel works, the question on everyone’s lips was this: If the Government can bail-out a failing banks to save jobs and help the economy, why can’t it do the same for Port Talbot?
The Conservative Business Secretary Sajid Javid was ordered back from Austrailia this week when it became obvious that things were about to go from bad to worse in a deal to try and save the steel works. In an interview on 30th March he said that the steel industry is “absolutely vital” for UK economy; whilst in the same sentence he said “I don’t think that nationalisation is the answer”.
The Government has also refused to recall Parliament to discuss the problems Port Talbot faces despite thousands of jobs being on the line.
There are 5,500 people employed at Port Talbot but the knock-on effect for the local economy could be huge. From local shops, contractors, restaurants, pubs, hotels – thousands of other jobs and services supplying the Works and it’s employees would go.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said that Port Talbot should be taken into state hands. In an interview of Channel 4 news Mr Corbyn said: “these are people who have given their lives to the industry”.
Mr Corbyn also bought up the issue of low-cost steel flooding the European market from China.
What are the Government’s options?
Actually, quite a few. Firstly, they should reverse the desperate attempts to attempt to hand so much British money to China in the form of Nuclear energy deals. Put pressure on the Chinese government to understand that the EU – the UK – will not continue to accept steel made with absolutely no regard to how it is produced or where it is sold. Quite simply, we will not accept steel dumping.
Secondly, they should introduce a higher tariff for imported steel outside of the EU.
Next, the Government should work with Tata to attempt to find more energy efficient methods of producing steel. The should look at making the site more appealing for Research and Development.
If all else fails, the Government should step in to save a potential 10,000 jobs at Port Talbot and the surrounding area. £1.1bn was spent bailing out the banks after they bought the UK to it’s knees. Like millions of others around the country the employees at the Port Talbot steel works suffered job insecurity, increased living costs and no payrise for years.
It’s time the “little guy” was given a break. It’s time that David Cameron and George Osborne stepped up the plate and did the right thing to save Port Talbot.