UK Government ministers have been urged to apply for EU help as part of a range of measures to mitigate the impact of job losses at Tata Steel plants in Wales Welsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart wants Westminster to tap into the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGAF) to help some of the hundreds of workers being laid off by the company. The fund has a 150 million euro budget annually to fund up to 60 per cent of the cost of projects designed to help workers made redundant find another job or set up their own business. Tata announced last month its intention to shed 750 jobs at Port Talbot. Another 15 will go at Trostre, Llanelli.
But in a statement released yesterday, Edwina Hart said the Welsh Government's Council for Economic Renewal also called for "visible action" on the steel crisis.
Tata this week reported net losses of Pounds 215 million in the three months to the end of 2015. The dip has been blamed in part on the market being saturated by cheap imports from China and Russia.
Mrs Hart said: "The council agreed that the priorities were to ensure that support was provided for those affected as well as addressing the impact on the local economy and supply chains.
"However, the council stressed that the critical issues affecting the steel industry were far wider than the Welsh Government's levers and immediate and visible action was needed from the UK Government on a range of critical issues, including the need for a longer term strategy to support the steel industry.
Specifically, the council urged the UK Government to make an urgent application to the European Globalisation Fund to provide much needed assistance to those at risk of losing their jobs."
Aberavon MP Steven Kinnock accused David Cameron and the Conservative government of 'cosying up to Beijing' over his apparent support of China being accepted as a market economy by the EU -- something which Mrs Hart and the council agrees with.
She added: "The current crisis follows continued pressure on the European steel process caused by cheap imports, particularly from China, but also now others including Russia, and the council called for urgent anti-dumping measures on steel products.
"The threat posed by China being formally recognised as a market economy was highlighted and the negative effect this would have on any anti-dumping measures. Procurement was underlined as one of the most powerful levers.
"The Welsh Government was already taking action but the UK Government needed to commit to tangible actions on all major infrastructure projects such as the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon."
Responding to Mr Kinnock during Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron pointed to measures taken to help the ailing steel industry. "I put helping British industry first, that is why we cut taxes for British industry, we're cutting the energy bills for British industry, we're helping with apprenticeships, we're busting open markets abroad, so the British industries can succeed," he said.
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