Community says government must step in to save jobs in Teeside

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Construction (BWI),

Redcar steelTrade unionists are this evening being urged to attend a rally in support of steelworkers in Redcar.

Around 2,000 jobs are under threat after SSI bosses told workers to pause production. Staff have been told to turn up for their shifts even though there is no guarantee they will be paid tomorrow.

The rally takes place at 6.45pm at the Majuba Road car park, Redcar tonight. People are being asked to bring a torch with them.

The company says rising competition and falling rpcies are to blame for the downturn. IT also wants the government to lower business rates and relax emission targets.

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “I, along with local MPs Anna Turley and Tom Blenkinsop, have written to the president of SSI UK asking him to clearly set out as a matter of urgency what support his business requires from the UK government. The wall of silence from SSI is causing deep distress amongst our members and their families and the entire community that depends on Teesside steel.

“The unions stand ready to assist the company in helping to build a sustainable and profitable future. However, SSI must clarify their intentions and make it clear what government intervention is needed.

“In turn, the government must fulfil the promise made by David Cameron last week that he would do everything he could to keep steelmaking on Teesside. His government has talked about the importance of this strategic industry, but warm words have made little difference. Steelworkers on Teesside and the whole of British industry need immediate action.

“The government must take action to protect SSI’s industrial assets. We fear that the integrity of some of the assets is under imminent threat – particularly the Redcar coke ovens. Without action to preserve the assets then we will be even further away from restarting steel making.

“Now is not the time for ministers to heed the siren calls of government officials advising caution. The government must be bold in its intervention and demonstrate it has the political will to give Teesside steel a future.

“The livelihoods of thousands of families and an entire community depend on the actions taken by both SSI and the government in the coming hours and days. If the silence and inaction doesn’t end soon then it may prove too late to save our steel.”

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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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