A MAJOR trade union alliance chief has said Newport's Orb Steel plant can have a “great future” and has called on the government to turn “warm words” into action.

Visiting union representatives and workers at Tata Steel’s Orb Electrical Steels plant today, Tuesday, December 3, Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This isn’t about bailing out lame ducks, this is about creating our future.”

In September, Tata announced the closure of the plant, putting 380 jobs at risk. But a strategy drawn up by steelworkers union Community and consultants Syndex outlined how the plant could be saved with £30 million of government funding. It would see the plant producing the electric steel used in electric cars.

And the Argus has launched a petition calling on the UK Government to step in to secure the future of the facility.

“What is frustrating is that particularly with the Westminster government, is that they should understand steel is a foundation industry for all our new industries: electric cars, wind turbines, they all need to be built by steel,” Ms O’Grady said.


“It is much better that we are producing it locally and creating good jobs, rather than importing it and creating carbon.

“What I think many of us find frustrating is that we have an incredibly skilled, dedicated and experienced workforce whose future is uncertain, all for the want of a little bit of investment and a lot of political commitment.

“They [politicians] are very fond of posing for pictures in front of electric cars, but Orb could provide steel to build those cars.

“I always like to measure people’s commitment by action not just warm words.”

South Wales Argus:

In his first speech as prime minister, Boris Johnson pledged to make the UK “the home of electric vehicles”.

Paul Horton, a Community union representative and steel worker of 37 years, said such investment is “not a lot when you consider the scale of a multi-billion-pound industry”.

“The plant has a lot of potential, and it is really good to see someone as high profile as Frances turn up.

“I am very passionate about this place.”

Ms O’Grady also threw her weight behind the Argus’ petition, which has been signed by over 800 people so far.

“We back it 100 per cent and the TUC would be glad to commit our support to it," she said.

“These workers deserve some respect, they deserve to be listened to and we should be investing in them and this community because that’s where Britain’s future should lie.”

Click here to download the petition.

Print it out, sign it, get your friends and family to sign it, and drop it into the Argus office in Cardiff Road, Maesglas, Newport, NP20 3QN.