Unions have said the £9m support package for the steel industry in the North East is woefully inadequate. The government and Tata Steel yesterday announced they will jointly fund the package to create jobs in Scunthorpe and provide training through loc …

Scunthorpe steelUnions have said the £9m support package for the steel industry in the North East is woefully inadequate.

The government and Tata Steel yesterday announced they will jointly fund the package to create jobs in Scunthorpe and provide training through local further education colleges for the 900 people who will lose their jobs.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “This is a woefully inadequate response from the government to support a town and industry which is being rocked by job losses.

“Steelworkers will view this limp response from the government as an insult which only deals with the symptoms, not the causes, of the steel crisis. Even then you have to ask just how much of an impact this new money will have in creating good quality jobs and supporting the local economy.

“Scunthorpe and the surrounding area are reliant on skilled steel jobs. Once the jobs are gone the knock on impact will be felt throughout the supply chain and the local economy. The government funding announced by business secretary Sajid Javid is a drop in the ocean to what is needed.

“The government needs to do more than promising ‘loose change’ and warm words to workers who face losing their livelihoods. Ministers need to act now, and act fast, to deal with the causes of the steel crisis and to keep the light burning in the UK’s steel industry.”

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “Although any support for steel communities is to be welcomed, both Tata Steel and the government are putting the cart before the horse.

“There is still a consultation process to go through and no worker will be redundant until that is completed. Community is focused on looking at the rationale behind the proposals and all possible alternatives that will save jobs. It will be challenging but all parties should be focused on the consultation.

“Ministers should be looking to protect these quality jobs for future generations in these communities. The government needs to get round the table with Tata Steel and the wider industry and implement the measures required to sustain steel making and retain skills and jobs in this vital foundation industry.

“This contrasts with the hands-on approach that the Scottish government is currently taking which we have welcomed.

“Worried steelworkers will not be reassured by today’s announcement, especially given the UK government’s track record over the support package for SSI workers, where even now it is unclear what is new money and how it will be spent.

“If David Cameron is serious about building a Northern Powerhouse then let him prove it by taking the action we need to protect steel jobs in Scunthorpe and across the whole region.”

GMB national officer Dave Hulse said “While GMB welcomes the support from government and Tata Steel for the Scunthorpe and Scottish sites let no one forget it’s not about conceding that these jobs will be lost its about protecting jobs.

“That means taking action on at dumping, energy prices, business rates, market conditions, procurement and international comparisons. Then we may be able to create a level playing field for our steel Workers.

“It is alright talking about a Northern powerhouse and then do nothing to support a key sector like our steel industry.

“We also call on the government to have a look at the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund as they have so far refused to draw on this fund to support steel workers who have lost their jobs.”


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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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