WORKERS who have left Newport's Orb Steelworks plant will return tomorrow to perform a mass walkout in a show of solidarity for the city's steel industry.

As of tomorrow at 1pm, the final 11 employees will leave the 122-year-old site in what could be its final day in operation.

Politicians John Griffiths MS, Jayne Bryant MS, Ruth Jones MP and Jess Morden MP will join forces with the ex-employees as they walk and applaud.

The Orb site was mothballed in December by owners Tata, bringing to a halt a proud tradition of more than a century of steelmaking at the factory.

Representative of steelworkers' union Community Mark Spencer, who will be in attendance tomorrow, worked at the site for 38 years - as did his father, son, cousins and nephews.


"It's going to be an emotional day but I think it's important we go down there and show solidarity. That place was such a big part of my life and my family's life," said Mr Spencer, 60.

"While the plant is there and is not being used there is always hope of recovery, and I will keep that hope with me."

Ahead of the walkout, Ms Bryant said: “It is a sad day for Newport and the long, proud history of steel in our city. I would like to pay tribute to the dedicated, skilled workforce who have been through some really difficult times over the years but, along with the trade unions, continually made the positive case for the future of the Orb. My thoughts are with the workforce and their families.”

Mr Griffiths said: “For over a hundred years this site has been producing steels and it will be very sad to see it closing tomorrow. 

“That said I am hopeful this is not the end for the site - I and Jessica (Morden) will continue to press the Welsh and UK Governments to look at ways in which electric steel making can return to this part of the city. 

“One of these opportunities could be looking at growing the electric car industry in Wales, which I think the Orb site could play a key role in - and last month I made these points with the Minister Ken Skates.”

South Wales Argus:

Ms Morden MP added: "It's a desperately sad day for Newport and the end of an era after over 120 years of high-quality steelmaking at Orb. 

"It's also a massive missed opportunity for the country as a whole - this was the only site in the UK capable of producing the electric steels needed for electric vehicles, which the Prime Minister has previously claimed he wanted Britain to be a world leader in. 

"As I've emphasised repeatedly in Parliament and in meetings with ministers, the situation at Orb raises a generation-defining question for the government - do we want to be a country that manufactures or one that just imports? 

"Orb should never have been allowed to close, and we urgently need a comprehensive UK industrial strategy if we are to avoid future days like these. It's time for action to save our steel industry."