My interest in the survival of steel jobs and the threat to the pensions is not just as a local neighbouring MP to Jessica Morden.
Picture South Wales Argus
I was working there before the first iron or steel was made in 1962. Before that I worked for 5 years in a Cardiff steelworks. A total of 30 years work and a steel union branch secretary for most of that time.. The decline in jobs at Llanwern has been tragic in spite of the great sacrifices and restraint of the workforce over many years. I will do all I can to advance their pension case in a secondary role to Jessica Morden
A strong display of unity would be very helpful at this time but I believe the matter can only be settled across the negotiating table with a full understanding of Tata's position. If they are being unreasonable and refusing to negotiate that' puts the union in a very difficult position.
As always in these situations hotheads from outside the industry will be encouraging militancy. They are usually opportunists pursing their own agendas and jumping on all passing bandwagons - here today : where tomorrow?
My contacts with the union representative have been informative. They are impressive in the long tradition on union leaders at Llanwern.
They say, “Tata's response has been to refuse to come back around the table to try to discuss and resolve the issue. They tell me how important the Pension Scheme (BSPS) is to each and every member. If the scheme stays open, there is still the possibility for younger workers to join the BSPS in the future when the funding recovers. But if Tata close the scheme that’s it– nobody else would ever be able to join and everybody in the scheme would become deferred pensioners unable to access their full pension until aged 65.
Closing the pension scheme is unjustified and it is also unnecessary: pension deficits and surpluses go up and down but fundamentally the BSPS is a well-funded and sustainable scheme.”
I must declare an interest. I am a beneficiary of the scheme. It’s not a major part of my income but it is valued because it was hard-earned in 30 years of the rigors of shiftwork. I have great affection for that period of my life and warm regard for my companions who shared those shifts with me. I will do all I can to assist Jessica and the Unions to achieve a fair settlement.