- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Assembly Questions
Questions to the Leader of the House 16 May 2018
I would like to ask for two statements—the first statement on Welsh Government action to improve electrical safety, following electrical fires in Mid and West Wales in the last two years. There have been 121 due to faulty equipment or appliances, 119 due to faulty electric supply, 15 from faulty leads and 52 from overheating. Those are serious problems. I’d like to have a Welsh Government statement on that.115
I don’t make any apologies for going back to the job losses in Virgin, yet again, for the second statement I’m going to ask for, because, as you know, it’s a matter of grave concern in our part of the world. We met with representatives of the workforce last week, who came along, and they were concerned about when they would, firstly, start having people going in to talk to them and to see them, and, secondly, a number of firms, including Admiral—who have gone public on it—have offered to speak to them and to see if their skills meet Admiral’s skills shortage. But if they’re leaving because they’re about to be made redundant, they believe they ought to get their redundancy pay, because they’re declared redundant, rather than having to wait until the last day. The third one is that some of them would want to use their redundancy pay in order to support additional training, of which only a certain proportion would be paid for by ReAct, in order to upskill themselves. If they have their redundancy pay, the courses might start before the end of the closure. So, really, any updates would be really appreciated by the—sorry, why am I telling you? You know this. [Laughter.] Any updates would be really appreciated by the people working there.116
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Absolutely. Thank you for both of those important issues. On electrical fire safety, as I’m sure we all remember, Carl Sargeant said to the Assembly last year that we had real concerns about the growth in domestic fires originating in the electrical supply, and he commissioned in-depth research into the problem, which is now complete. It examines the extent and possible cause of the trend in detail and recommends further action by the fire service and others. The Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services is about to publish that research, and then we’ll be able to react appropriately to the research and put the appropriate measures in place. I know the Member has had a long-standing concern about such matters.117
In terms of the Virgin Media situation, indeed, obviously, we share a number of concerns on this, as do all of the AMs in the region. We’ve all attended a number of meetings. We have now given assistance to the staff association there to come up with a possible alternative bid, as discussed at the meeting we were at. We’ve also put the taskforce in place, so that funding will be available as soon as the taskforce is allowed entry, and my understanding is that that will be as soon as the consultation process is finished, which is any minute now—at the end of this week, I think, but I’ll check on the exact date on that. My understanding is that, in line with all the other events that we’ve, unfortunately, had to deal with, the taskforce will then go in, once that consultation is complete. If something changes on that, or there’s some difficulty with the company in allowing access to those funds, I will certainly report back to the Senedd, because it’s a matter of huge concern to us that the workers are treated fairly and appropriately during this really very unsettling process, and that the Welsh Government can give them as much assistance as we possibly can.