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1 May 2019

Port Talbot steelworks rocked by an explosion - nationalise the plant to save jobs and lives!

Gareth Bromhall, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party

In the early hours of 26 April, Port Talbot in south Wales was rocked by a large explosion that residents report sounded like a bomb which could be heard miles away.

The incident at the town's Tata steelworks, that employs thousands directly and supports thousands more in the area, was caused by the spillage of molten metal being transported across the site by train.

Two workers were burned during the accident and are still being treated in hospital. Tata have since made it clear in public statements to reassure shareholders that output would not be affected as the blast furnaces where restarted on 29 April.

Residents have expressed fear over safety at the site. Three workers were killed in an explosion at the steelworks in 2001 and this latest accident prompted one resident to ask "if one day we'll go up with it".

Safety fears have also prompted the steelworks' trade unions to call a meeting to discuss health and safety at the plant.

Socialist Party members and the National Shop Stewards Network have been involved in campaigns in recent years to save the plant after its planned mass layoffs, supported workers during a pensions battle and for its future during a planned merger.

Throughout these campaigns we have put the demand of public ownership to the fore, explaining that, under private ownership, profit will always outweigh the jobs, conditions and lives of the workers at the plant at the heart of the local community.

Nationalisation under democratic workers' control and management is key to saving and improving the plant.

Ultimately, the only way to permanently guarantee jobs and safety for all would be to fight for a socialist society, with a democratically planned economy to meet the needs of all.

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