PM hears of plight of axed workers in Commons

THE plight of axed Alcan and Remploy workers has been raised with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery raised the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions last month as he pointed out the dire unemployment figures for his constituency.

He said: “The Prime Minister said last year that under his Government unemployment would fall year on year, but here we are with unemployment at a 17-year high.

“In my constituency, 55.4 people are chasing every job vacancy. The regional growth fund has supported only four businesses.

“Why should 515 workers in Rio Tinto Alcan, the disabled workers at Remploy and many others set to lose their jobs believe a single word that he or the Chancellor says?”

Mr Cameron said the Government is working with Northumberland County Council and Rio Tinto Alcan to find out how it can help workers at the smelter find employment.

He said that nationally more than 600,000 jobs had been created in the private sector, the level of employment is up by around 250,000 and there are fewer people on out of work benefits than at the time of the election.

He added that the North East has had positive news with Nissan expansion, Hitachi building a plant in County Durham, Newcastle International Airport expanding and Greggs investing more.

“We should be talking up the North East instead of talking it down,” he said.

However, after the session Mr Lavery said: “It is no good the Prime Minister telling me about jobs that will materialise in the future in Sunderland or Newton Aycliffe in south Durham. The reality is we need jobs and opportunities for people here in Wansbeck, in south east Northumberland and throughout Northumberland, and we need them now.”

The MP said he has been seeking urgent meetings with Employment Minister Chris Grayling and Business Secretary Vince Cable, but was forced to raise the issue in the House of Commons again last Thursday as he had received no response.

He has since heard from Mr Cable’s office to set up a meeting, but his request has been declined by Mr Grayling.