South East Wales

Rowecord Engineering: Minister pledges to help workers

Business Minister Edwina Hart has pledged to help workers losing their jobs after the collapse of Wales' biggest steel contractor.

Some 430 people will be made redundant at Newport-based Rowecord Engineering, which built the roof of the Olympic aquatic centre.

Administrators say they will keep 80 staff on to complete work in progress.

Ms Hart confirmed the company turned down a government offer of assistance due to the seriousness of their plight.

Rowecord made the roof of the Olympic aquatics building and a new blast furnace for the Tata steel plant in Port Talbot.

But a collapse in the market for major construction projects put the firm under pressure.

In a statement on Friday the company said it had "exhausted every option to sustain the business in future" and would go into administration.

In a statement to the Senedd on Tuesday, Ms Hart said the collapse of such a major firm was "obviously very disappointing news, not only for the Welsh economy, but for the company's employees and their families".

She noted that the company was trying to protect other parts of the group, and had turned down an offer of help from the Welsh government.

Image caption The London 2012 Aquatics centre roof is one of the company's recent high-profile projects

"We have offered assistance to the maximum level allowable within state aid rules to the company," she told AMs.

"However, this offer was not taken up by the company, because of their worsening financial and competitive position.

"Clearly, we were offering a short to medium term remedy to the company's management. In the longer term a full recovery lies with a significant improvement in market conditions.

"In particular, we will continue to encourage the UK government to put a greater emphasis on major infrastructure projects."

Ms Hart added: "We will now work with the administrators, Grant Thornton, to explore all options for securing the future of the company and we will of course discuss packages of support with any potential buyers.

"We will also ensure that as much support as possible is made available to the employees, including through the ReAct programme, to help them through this difficult time."

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