'Bringing people together'
Port Talbot sports teams throw their support behind steel as Unite campaign gains momentum
Port Talbot sports teams and steel workers rallied at the beachfront on Saturday (November 11) to demand political action to save the industry. The rally comes as a petition calling on politicians to sign up to Unite’s Workers’ Plan for Steel reached over 21,000 signatures.
Local sports teams in attendance will included Afan Lido FC, Afan United, Goytre FC, Trefelin BGC FC, Baglan Dragons FC, FC Porthcawl, Margam FC, Port Talbot Town Ladies FC, Afan Rounders, Aberavon Greenstars RFC and Aberavon Harlequins.
They were joined by workers from the Port Talbot steelworks and their families.
Unite member and steel worker Remi Whitlock organised the event, which he said was “brilliant” and drew people far and wide from the local community.
Remi said he had the idea to involve local sports teams because of the influence they have in the Port Talbot community.
“I run a local football club myself and I know the reach such clubs have on social media and beyond,” he said. “Collectively we’ve got three football teams in Port Talbot playing second tier Welsh football and between them they have tens of thousands of followers on social media. It’s all about bringing people together – and in that respect Saturday’s event really worked well.”
Remi said there was clearly momentum building behind Unite’s Workers’ Plan for Steel campaign in Port Talbot, in part because it is a truly grassroots campaign led by and involving steelworkers, local businesses and community groups themselves.
“The success of the campaign depends on letting the community have a voice for themselves and that’s what separates this campaign from others,” he said.
Remi urged everyone in the Port Talbot community to back Unite’s Workers’ Plan for Steel campaign because the stakes have never been higher.
“No matter who you are, one way or another you will be affected if the steelworks closes down — I can guarantee you that,” he explained. “If the steelworks were to close, house prices would go down, jobs in the area would go and local businesses would close. It matters to all of us.”
Throughout the autumn, Unite organisers have been working in Port Talbot full time with members of the public and community groups as part of the Workers’ Plan for Steel campaign.
Over 100 businesses and community groups, have signed up to Unite’s campaign including Port Talbot Gas Welfare Club, Afan Ales and San Portablo Streetwear and Fashion.
The campaign is engaging voters to pressure politicians to pledge support for measures that will safeguard existing steel employment and create thousands of new decent jobs.
Unite is clear that it will continue the campaign until the investment, job guarantees and public procurement rules needed to revitalise the industry and make it a world leader in green steel are secured.
Underpinning the campaign, Unite has set out a Workers’ Plan for Steel making key demands that if delivered would make Britain a world leader in steel production.
Ahead of Saturday’s event, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Businesses, community groups and people in their thousands are joining Unite’s campaign to see politicians commit to the Workers Plan for Steel. But Unite, and the people of Port Talbot, will not stop until the current plans for the steelworks – which are a town killer – are vastly improved.
“Our elected representatives must choose a better way forward, one that secures Port Talbot’s position as a leader in steel production where decent jobs now and in the future are created not lost,” she added.
“Unite is urging everyone in Port Talbot that hasn’t done so to demand their politician’s sign up to the Workers Plan for Steel.”
By Ryan Fletcher
Additional reporting by Hajera Blagg