Thursday, January 22, 2009

Team Wales pulls out the stops for former ASW staff

Team Wales has provided a rapid response to the closure of Allied Steel and Wire in Cardiff and immediate first-class support to redundant workers, said Welsh Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies.

The Team Wales partners involved in the response met earlier this week to review their work and the progress being made.

Andrew Davies, said: "Unlike the Corus crisis of last year, there was virtually no warning of the closure of ASW. It is an enormous credit to all the agencies, ELWa, Jobcentre Plus, Careers Wales, the WDA and others, including Steel Partnership Training and Cardiff County Council, that we have made terrific progress in helping former ASW employees improve their interview techniques, find new work and claim their entitlements.

"The other main emphasis of the Welsh Assembly Government is to continue to support the sale of the ASW plant to a new buyer as a going concern.

"After the bitter blow of losing their jobs and facing serious uncertainty about their pension and redundancy entitlements, ex-ASW staff have every right to expect an immediate and first class response from support services. That is exactly what is being provided and we have been co-ordinating this work.

"The Welsh Assembly Government has also campaigned hard to ensure that ex-ASW staff qualify for the one-off ISERBS payment that DTI allows to be paid to redundant steel workers in recognition of the severe restrictions on state aids to the industry. I am delighted that this has been achieved and that all eligible redundant ASW staff, and a number of contractors, are already having their ISERBS claims processed."

Of the 600 ASW staff made redundant on 31 July over 400 have been seen by Job Centre Plus and Careers Wales, mostly at the specially set up multi-agency office at the Railway Club in Tremorfa. It is thought that Around 85% of those made redundant live in the Splott, Tremorfa, Grangetown, Adamsdown and Butetown areas.

ELWa and Steel Partnership Training (SPT) are providing support for a range of advice, guidance and training packages, including courses for HGV licences and fork-lift truck driving certification. The Council is assisting with IT training, CV preparation and improving interview techniques. SPT has seen nearly 700 ex-ASW staff and contractors in the last few weeks alone. Training and support are very much tailored to the needs of the individual with all the various agencies working closely together. For example, ELWa is providing support for one bilingual former steel worker who wants to become a Welsh teacher in Butetown while the WDA is supporting another who wants to set up his own boat building business.

Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies said: "Steel workers are a special breed and highly skilled and combining an independent spirit with a powerful work ethic. Our recent experience with Corus and with previous steel closures going back many years is that they are not out of work for long. The Welsh Assembly Government and our partners will do everything in our power to ensure that this remains the case."

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