Unions renew calls for government to act to save the UK industry

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, GMB, Unite,

Redcar bannerThe TUC has warned one in six steelworkers in the UK now face the prospect of losing their jobs.

Responding to the news that steel firm Caparo are to make 1,800 redundancies, on top the 1,200 being made at TATA and 2,220 at SSI, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “One in six UK steelworkers face losing their jobs. At this rate there won’t be a British steel industry in a year’s time.

“Ministers cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and watch this crisis unfold. They must step in now with a rescue package. From solar to steel, the government’s lack of industrial strategy is costing the UK dear.

“If David Cameron and George Osborne don’t up their game, more firms will go to the wall. They must provide emergency financial support in next month’s Spending Review. And they must urgently raise with the Chinese President the devastating impact Chinese steel dumping is having on British manufacturers.”

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “The news that Caparo is to make workers redundant is another devastating blow to Britain’s steel industry. Caparo’s workforce produce high quality finished steel products and has been battling against an increasingly challenging global market. The loss of 1,800 jobs would have a serious impact on the communities around Caparo’s workplaces.

“This news is a tragic reminder of the urgent need for government action to help our steel industry survive. Crippling energy costs and the dumping of cheap Chinese steel is threatening the very future of the UK’s steel sector.

“We will be working to support our members within Caparo at this difficult time and are seeking an urgent meeting with the company to understand exactly how this announcement will impact the workforce.

“This is an industry wide crisis. It is vitally important that Britain’s steel companies hold their nerve and that government works with unions and the industry to build a sustainable future for UK manufacturing with steel at its heart.”

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “This is yet another hammer blow for steel and manufacturing communities across the UK already reeling from the closure of Redcar and job losses at Tata steel.

“Our members at Caparo Industries are highly skilled and work hard to produce world class products. We believe that the company has a future. Unite will be working with Caparo’s administrators and doing everything in our power to save jobs.

“Government ministers need to ask themselves. How many more steel firms need to go to the wall before they step in and support the UK’s steel industry?

“Failure to act urgently could lead to a ‘domino effect’ taking hold across the industry, leading to the loss of yet more skilled jobs as firms buckle under a combination of steel ‘dumping’ and high energy costs.

“The government’s ‘March of the Makers’ and ‘Northern Powerhouse’ will become meaningless rhetoric, if it fails to act swiftly and the livelihoods of thousands of people left in tatters.”

GMB regional secretary Joe Morgan said: “This is even more bad news for our members and their families. David Cameron needs to button hole Chinese President Xi Jinping, while he is in London with his 900 strong entourage, to get a stop to dumping Chinese steel in the UK below the costs of making it. Amber Rudd needs to get on with the energy compensation scheme. Only government has the power to act. Without immediate action the position facing steel workers is dire.”

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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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