Huw Lewis, Labour AM, has called for an emergency summit with the Welsh Manufacturer’s Forum to confront the country’s manufacturing crisis.
Triggered by the announcements by Hoover and Bosch’s Wales-based factories that 597 jobs between them could be axed, Mr Lewis’ letter to the deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones urges re-distribution of European funding and assembly government support before unemployment in the sector rises further.
“Following on from the announcements at Hoover and Bosch and the pressures being felt by the automotive sector in Wales,” said Mr Lewis, “it would seem prudent to have an emergency summit to look at a joint response to the manufacturing crisis.”
He criticised the current action being taken by businesses to stay afloat:
“In some threatened companies in Wales you have this crazy situation where once people go out of work, the government will spring into action and spend millions on re-training.
“But for a fraction of the price, you could maintain employment, allowing companies to hang onto their skilled workforce and be primed for an upturn in the market.”
The Welsh Assembly Government has been at pains to highlight the steps it is already taking to protect Wales’ manufacturing jobs. A spokesman has described how the assembly is improving existing skills training programmes and securing EU funding:
“The Structural Funds programmes have been developed to target support directly relevant to the needs of Wales.”
He also stated that the assembly is in discussion with the European Commission to increase the flexibility of financial arrangements for the 2007 – 2013 training programmes.