Community says it will not give up on its members

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Construction (BWI), GMB, Unite,

Redcar steelUnions have pledged to do all they can to save jobs at Redcar steelmaker SSI after this morning’s announcement the plant is to be mothballed, risking 1,700 jobs.

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “We had begun to fear the worst over the past few days and this will be devastating news for our members and their families. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to understand the detail of this announcement. We will also be putting in place support for our members in the days and weeks ahead.

“Steel making on Teesside must have a future and our fight to save our steel will continue. The industrial assets must be preserved at all costs and the skills base also needs to be protected. These vital industrial skills have been passed down through the generations and must not be lost. That blast furnace must not become a monument to 170 years of history and it must be mothballed properly to preserve its integrity and give it the chance of a future. We have serious concerns about the ability of SSI to do this and so the government must step in to ensure that the mothballing is done properly.

“The cost of inaction and the demise of the assets could extend to hundreds of millions of pounds. Not just the cost of cleaning up the site but the economic and social costs from devastating an entire steel community and the lives of the thousands of families who depend upon it.

“The Prime Minister said his government would do ‘everything we can’ to support the UK steel industry. He needs to deliver on that. Now is the time to demonstrate the political will to see a vital foundation industry continue.

“Steelworkers will not give up on their industry and their heritage. The government must not give up on Teeside’s steelworkers.”

GMB national officer David Hulse said: “This is absolutely devastating news for the workers, their families and the economy for the community at Redcar. All that will be left operating will be the coke ovens unless the UK Government steps in even at this stage.  It is not too late for them to do so while the furnaces are still burning.

“GMB will do all in our power to press the case for government to act and to protect our members and their families.”

Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “This is devastating news for Redcar and the thousands of people who depend on the steelworks for their livelihoods. Steel is the lifeblood of the local economy and runs through the community’s veins.

“The government’s much vaunted Northern Powerhouse risks being nothing more than empty rhetoric unless it steps in with assistance to save the SSI plant on Redcar.

“With so many livelihoods at stake and the UK steel industry at crisis point government ministers need to follow the lead of their counterparts in France, Italy and Germany by pursuing an active industrial strategy which supports the UK’s steel industry.

“Over the coming days Unite will be doing everything we can to support our members and the community and pressing government ministers to intervene and save our steel.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Today’s announcement is a massive blow to the government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda and British industry. There now needs to be a comprehensive, rapid response plan to help workers affected by the closure.

“The future of British steel-making is at a crossroads. At a time when competitor nations are spending heavily on helping their energy-intensive industries to become greener, companies in the UK are being forced to pay huge costs.

“The Chancellor must provide more financial support for manufacturers in November’s spending review. If the government does nothing plants like SSI will continue to close.

“British steel-making contributes over £45bn to the UK economy and provides the kind of high-skilled labour we need to boost productivity. It can’t be allowed to wither on the vine.”

  • petition has been launched to save steel jobs on Teeside.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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