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Tata Steel pension plan backed by workers

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TATA steelworkers have overwhelmingly voted to accept a new deal on their pensions.

The deal included £1bn of investment for Port Talbot with no compulsory job losses. Members of three unions voted on the proposal.

Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on Steel and the elected member for the South Wales West region in which the Port Talbot plant is located, said: “There is no doubt the package of proposals with which workers was presented was stark, and seen as a choice between their job or their pension.  With today’s result, the workforce has made its sacrifice for future workers.  Now is the time for the Welsh and UK Governments to step up and demonstrate their commitment to steelworkers and the industry.

“Such a demonstration should include action on energy costs, and investment in a local power plant and a Steel Research and Development Centre.

“The industry also needs a cast-iron guarantee on public procurement whereby local steel is prioritised in infrastructure developments.”

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Adam Price, added: “The Tory UK Government must now urgently amend the “low priority” grading it has given an industry worth £3billion annually to the Welsh economy.  An extreme hard Brexit or World Trade Organisation rules would not be good for the Welsh steel industry, and Plaid Cymru will be insisting the industry is protected from cheap and unfair competition.

“The last-minute concessions negotiated by the unions was no mean feat given that many argued Tata was in no mood to compromise further when some of us called for changes to the plan announced before Christmas.  Those changes came, Tata improved its offer, and the Unions ultimately supported the package.  This undoubtedly assisted workers to reach a decision.

“Having recently met with the local management, it is evident they have a clear vision and plan of action for a sustainable steel sector in Wales and the UK.  Plaid Cymru will support them and the workforce in every way we can as they set about growing this hugely important industry.”

Responding to the results, Dave Hulse, National Officer for GMB, said:  “Now that steelworkers have done their bit, it is time for the government step up and do theirs.

“Thousands of skilled jobs rely on steelmaking and the industry supports the whole UK manufacturing sector.

“Instead of insulting steelworkers by classing their industry as a ‘low priority’, the government set out as strategy for steel that recognises it as a high priority for investment and innovation.”

Tony Brady, National Officer for Unite, said:  “This is not a decision our members have taken lightly.

“It has been a hellish time for them, their families and their communities as uncertainty has swirled around the steel industry over this past year or more.

“During that time steelworkers have made great sacrifices to ensure the UK’s world class steel industry has a future.

“Those sacrifices must be repaid by Tata Steel honouring its commitments on investment and job security.

“Nothing less would be a betrayal and add to the deep mistrust that steelworkers now have for the company.

“The UK government in Westminster must also repay the sacrifices and the commitment shown by steelworkers to their industry by stepping up to support steel and secure its future.

“Recent talk of steel being a low priority for UK government ministers in Brexit negotiations is shameful.

“The UK government must now work in lockstep with the Welsh Government and put steel at the heart of a manufacturing industrial strategy which ensures UK steel is used in all major infrastructure and defence projects.”

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:  “This result provides a mandate from our members to move forward in our discussions with Tata and find a sustainable solution for the British Steel Pension Scheme.

“Steelworkers have taken a tough decision and have shown they are determined to safeguard jobs and secure the long-term future of steelmaking.

“Nobody wanted to be in this situation, but as we have always said, it is vital that we now work together to protect the benefits already accrued and prevent the BSPS from free-falling into the PPF.

“This ballot involved an extremely personal decision for everyone that voted. Whichever way our members cast their votes, we know they will not have taken that decision lightly and everyone’s opinions must be respected.

“We now expect Tata to make good on their promises and deliver the investment plan for the whole of their steel business.

“The UK Government still has an important role to play and we fully expect them to deliver tangible support for steelmaking in the UK.”

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Llanelli bus depot to close after 100 years

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THE LLANELLI HERALD understands that the Llanelli Bus Depot at Inkermans Street will be closing its gates for good. 

The Bus Depot has served the local community for approximately 100 years, Drivers will now be sent to work from depots in Carmarthen, Swansea and Tycroes. 

All services will remain in the the town, this newspaper can confirm, and our reporter was told that there will not be any redundancies. 

One bus driver told us that he and he co-workers were “not completely happy”, but the unnamed source added “At least we still have jobs to go to.” 

Further updates are expected on this developing story.

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Drakeford to make decision on ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales by Monday

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WALES is facing a national lockdown lasting at least two weeks in plans described as a “fire-break” by the first minister.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continue with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Responding to the speculation First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is set to announce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Wales, Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “I implore the First Minister to think again before heading down this path.

“The decision to lockdown Wales once again will have devastating consequences – from an economic and public health perspective – and should be the last resort.

“Only yesterday, the former director of communicable diseases at Public Health Wales, Dr Roland Salmon, said a circuit-breaker is likely to fail and the Welsh Labour Government should listen carefully to his warning.

“Earlier this week, Welsh Conservatives called for the urgent resumption of shielding in Wales with a substantial package of support to ensure the financial, physical and mental well-being of those most at risk is protected.

“This should be the immediate action taken by ministers along with prioritising PPE and testing in the problem areas in Wales such as hospitals, care home, universities and meat factories.

“It’s not too late for the Labour Government to reconsider and choose a different approach in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford warned that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he added.

Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Plaid Cymru has been calling on Mr Drakeford to introduce the circuit-breaker without delay, while Labour at Westminster says a similar approach should be adopted in England.

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