A minute's silence will be observed in Wales today on the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster.
Tata Steel Cuts 400 Jobs
One of Wales' largest employers, Tata Steel, has announced it is cutting 400 jobs.
Bosses have said the changes at the Port Talbot plant are to "improve the competitiveness'' of its steelmaking business.
Karl Koehler, Tata Steel's European chief executive, said:
"We have invested more than #250 million over the last two years in state-of-the-art steelmaking technology in the Strip Products business. In addition, we are currently investing in our Hot Strip Mill in Port Talbot and we have upgraded our galvanising line in Llanwern enabling us to increase production of high-value automotive steels.
"These investments have created a stronger, more efficient and more reliable platform from which we can meet the needs of our customers, with an improved range and quality of products and services.
"But steel demand and prices are likely to be under pressure for some years. Our business rates in the UK are much higher than other EU countries' and our UK energy costs will remain uncompetitive until new mitigation measures come into effect.
"These proposed changes then are vital if we are to build a competitive future for our Strip Products business in the UK.
"We will, of course, engage fully with employees, trade unions and our political stakeholders during this restructuring process, and we will do everything we can to support our employees through this unsettling time.''
Reacting to the announcement, Hywel Francis MP and David Rees AM issued a joint statement:
"We have been informed that these redundancies are proposed following the first root and branch review of the plant for many years.
"We were assured that the usual process of consultation will be undertaken and key issues of long term sustainability of the plant and safety will be paramount.
"We wish to place on record our continued faith in steel making at Port Talbot and we urge government at local, Welsh and UK level to work with Tata and the unions to achieve this."
In response, a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said:
"This news will be of concern to many of the skilled Welsh workforce at the Port Talbot plant. We are however encouraged that the company plans to achieve these reductions through voluntary means.
"Tata has demonstrated its commitment to Wales by investing nearly £400m in the Strip business over the past two years. Despite this investment it is clear that the industry is still being adversely affected by high energy costs in the UK.
"We continue to work with Tata to ensure we create and sustain a thriving steel industry in Wales but repeat our calls for the UK government to implement measures to reduce the burden faced by energy intensive companies in Wales."
Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones MP, said he was 'disappointed' by the news.
"My immediate concerns are with those employees and their families who may be potentially affected by redundancies.
"Tata Steel has assured me that it is undertaking a robust consultation process with its staff and will continue to work very closely with the unions. It has also offered assurance that it is committed to sustaining the long-term future of its Port Talbot site in Wales against a global backdrop in recent years of shrinkage in the steel industry and intense global competition.
"Jobcentre Plus stands ready to support any employees potentially affected by today's announcement."
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