Renewed Hope for Anglesey Aluminium
by David Phillips
The future of Anglesey Aluminium (AAM)at Holyhead remains in the balance after more discussions yesterday between Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary, the management of AAM, Unite the Union officials and island MP Albert Owen.
The company has said it will be ending smelting operations in September and 140 workers have already accepted voluntary redundancy.
Talks have been going on at the highest levels, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown meeting with local MP Albert Owen and saying the Government is doing everything it can to save the plant from closure and safeguard the existing jobs.
Yesterday's meeting between Peter Hain and AAM was a determined effort at trying to find some way forward through the impasse over the offer of £48 million over four years to help the smelter get through these difficult times for the aluminium industry in particular and industrial metals more generally.
One approach could be to front load the financial support, so that rather than have £12 m each year for 4 years, there could be more funds in the first two years, anticipating the price for primary aluminium will recover over the next two years.
On Monday high level discussions will take place between government ministers from the Business and Energy departments and Board members of Rio Tinto and Kaiser Aluminium to work out a possible late solution for the smelter and save more jobs.
After Friday's meeting Albert Owen MP said: "We have had constructive discussions with Anglesey Aluminium and I am encouraged by the willingness of the company to look again at ways of saving the smelter.
The Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Wales are doing everything they can to help save the plant and local jobs and we must leave no stone unturned in our efforts."
It appears there may be a chink of light for the local workforce regarding the future of Anglesey Aluminium Metal at Holyhead, and after next Tuesday (21 July, 2009) the picture should be clearer.
Update (2 August 2009):
Local MP Albert Owen believes the prospects for saving the Anglesey Aluminium smelter in Holyhead are much improved, and it now seems more likely than not that operations will continue.
The scenario of operating with only one potline is the expected outcome, and significantly there would be no further job losses on top of the 140 voluntary redundancies.
"The next two years may be difficult but the long term outlook is more positive for aluminium", said Mr Owen.
He added, "what needs to be resolved now are the various conditions relating to the generous offer made by the Government".
One possibility that has been discussed is bringing forward more of the financial support into the first two years or so.
It seems that the tireless efforts of Albert Owen along with support from First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan, as well as Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, may finally save local jobs and help the island economy avoid a drop in economic activity.
The next few days will be crucial in the final outcome.
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