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Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
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Oral - Hoover Candy
On Tuesday, 18 November Hoover Candy announced the start of a three-month consultation process that could lead to the closure of its manufacturing activities at Merthyr Tydfil. I am both saddened and disappointed by this announcement. It is clearly a very serious blow to the Merthyr workforce and my sincerest sympathies are extended to those employees and their families at this time.
The company has a particularly long and proud association with the people of Wales, having established itself in Merthyr Tydfil in 1948. At its peak, Hoover employed 5,000 people and has made a significant contribution to the wider economy of the Heads of the Valleys area. More recently, the Merthyr Tydfil site has been the only manufacturing site within the Hoover Candy Group in the UK. It also provides the headquarters, warehousing and distribution centre for the majority of Hoover Candy products in the UK market. It currently employs 450 people in Merthyr, with 342 people working in the manufacturing division. I fully appreciate the distress that this announcement will cause to the employees at the plant and the impact that this decision will have on the wider community.
However, Hoover Candy’s dedicated Welsh workforce deserves more than just our sympathies. The workers deserve action and I want them to know that the Assembly Government is doing all it can. We will spare no effort in helping to safeguard employment, find new opportunities for those affected and protect the interests of the community.
My officials and I have responded swiftly and discussions are already under way. I have already made it clear to Hoover Candy’s senior management that the Assembly Government will do everything in its power to work with the company to save the maximum number of jobs at the Merthyr operation. The company recognises and appreciates that commitment.
The First Minister and I have already held discussions with trade union leaders today. We also want to meet Hoover Candy’s senior management team and we will explore all means of help and assistance that can be provided to save jobs and sustain employment at the site. The most senior official in my department has already had early discussions with the company and set out the likely scope of support. It would be unfair and irresponsible of me, or for anyone in this Chamber for that matter, to raise hopes and expectations about what might be done or achieved. These are difficult and testing times, but the people of Merthyr and Hoover Candy’s employees can be sure that the Assembly Government will be imaginative, decisive and swift in its response to the situation. I am determined that we will explore every possible avenue of action to protect the interests of the people of Merthyr.
It is significant that the company has stressed that the announcement is neither a reflection of the Welsh workforce, who have never failed to impress with their skills and commitment, nor its constructive relationship with the Assembly Government. On the contrary, the company and its employees at Merthyr have been affected by increasing cost pressures and a challenging global economic environment. Globalisation carries with it opportunities and threats. Our job now is to capitalise on the opportunities that it presents and to seek out new opportunities for those affected by Hoover’s announcement.
Hoover Candy is committed to maintaining its sales, marketing and after-sales service operations within the UK. The consultation announced yesterday does not affect headquarters functions at Merthyr Tydfil that comprise finance, legal, information technology, customer order processing, transport and logistics and the UK finished-goods warehouse and distribution departments. The company has made it clear that a future remains for Hoover Candy at Merthyr Tydfil, not least in sustaining its headquarters, distribution and after-sales service operations. It is therefore beholden upon my department and me to work with the company, and other key stakeholders, to maximise the opportunities that remain. That is what we are committed to do.