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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 17:24 GMT
Steelworkers urged 'look to future'
llanwern steelworks
The majority of the job losses will be at plants in Wales
Prime Minister Tony Blair has endorsed union plans to fight steel jobs losses and once more urges Corus to "think again".

During a visit to south Wales for the Wales Labour conference, Mr Blair met with steel union leaders in Wales for talks over plans by Corus to lay-off 6,000 jobs.

More than half of those jobs are to go in Wales it was announced in January with the closures and cuts at plants in Llanwern, Ebbw Vale, Shotton and Gorseinon.

The unions have submitted proposals to the Anglo-Dutch company, which includes plans for retraining workers.

Tony Blair
Blair :appealed to Corus to reconsider cuts
And they were reassured by the premier that Wales's steel workforce was "part of Britain's future, not Britain's past".

"I pay tribute to the extraordinary way that the workforce, trade unions and communities have put together a plan to save the threatened plants.

"It is a plan not based on sentiment but hard-headed commercial interest. "We are ready to help in any way we responsibly and legally can but I do urge Corus to listen to that plan with care and think again.

'Positive signs'

"This is a great workforce - skilled, committed, productive. They are part of Britain and Wales's future and not part of the past."

In a bid to boost confidence to a Wales-wide workforce which is continuing to reel from numerous blows over recent months, Mr Blair spoke of "positive signs".

While he said there had been wide-spread redundancies, he highlighted some of the jobs boosts including the creation of 1,700 new jobs at BAe's plant in Broughton, north Wales.

"Yes, there are knocks in the past few weeks, but there are also positive signs for Wales.

"There have been job losses this year but there have also been major job gains in recent months."

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See also:

08 Feb 01 | Wales
Blair's pledge over steel towns
02 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Blair urges Corus rethink
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