Our local MP, Virginia Crosbie, and Lyn Hudson, the Tory Senedd candidate, claim a freeport at Holyhead would create 15,000 jobs – pretty impressive given that StatsWales’ most recent figure for jobs on Anglesey is 21,000!
Of course, it’s another Tory fantasy figure, like so many others in recent years. But what if we take Crosbie and Hudson at their word? Who would fill these 15,000 jobs? Official labour market statistics show there were only 1700 unemployed people on the Island in 2020.
Clearly all these jobs could not be filled by local people. Other freeports around the world employ a large, poorly paid migrant workforce. As University of Sussex expert Peter Holmes point out, “There is potential for migrant workers to be exploited in these ports.”
If the idea of a freeport at Holyhead is taken forward, guarantees of full maintenance of employment rights and environmental protections would be essential.
In addition, the criminal activity found at other freeports, such as financing of terrorism, money laundering and organised crime, would have to be excluded.
We need well-paid, secure jobs that benefit local people. The best way of getting these jobs is investment in the sustainable green industries of tomorrow, such as innovative low-carbon housing, renewable energy, and new digital technologies, in combination with all-age apprenticeships to give workers new skills. This remains Welsh Labour’s priority.