Unions accuse Chancellor of failing to act to save the industry

Redcar steelUnions have laid in the government for not doing more to save steel jobs.

Yesterday saw Tata Steel confirm 1,200 jobs are to go in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire, on top of 2,200 jobs at SSI’s plant in Redcar.

The GMB has accused Chancellor George Osborne of failing to act on China dumping cheap steel on the market.

General Secretary Paul Kenny said: “Only the UK government acting with the EU can deal with dumping of steel and green taxes on energy prices.

Look at the dismal record:

·    16th July Tata Steel announce 720 jobs losses in Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Wednesbury. No action from government.

·    25th August Tata announce 250 redundancies in strip steel at Llanwern. No action from government.

·    18th September 2015 SSI announce 2,200 jobs at Redcar under threat. No action from government.

·    19th October steel firm Caparo in administration. No action from government.

·    20 October Tata announce 1,200 jobs to go in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire. No action from government.

“This lack of action on dumping is because George Osborne and Peter Mandelson are in charge of UK policy towards China and their approach is supine.

“It is the same craven policy from them that is allowing China, in return for recycling money paid from UK high streets into investment in Hinkley Point, to build an untried nuclear reactor 60 miles from London while there are serious questions over Chinese nuclear safety.

Parliament has to insist on immediate action on steel.”

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “Our immediate thoughts are with the workers and their families who will be affected by this announcement. Community representatives will be looking to sit down with the company, to understand the detail and to look at all alternatives that save jobs and uphold our principle of no compulsory redundancies. We will also be putting in place advice and support for our members who are affected.

“The government should hang its head in shame at today’s news. The cruel irony of the Prime Minister welcoming the Chinese Premier as UK steel jobs are cut partly due to Chinese steel dumping will not be lost on the UK’s steelworkers and their communities. We have been saying for years that more government action is needed to support UK steel as a vital foundation industry. We have made clear that the situation is urgent. Despite these warnings the government has been too slow to respond.

“It is not enough for the David Cameron to ‘raise’ the issue of steel dumping with the Chinese, he should be telling them what action he will be taking to stop steel dumping. The UK government could also show its support for the UK steel industry by bringing forward the compensation package for energy intensive industry. UK steel making is on its knees but I know that steelworkers across the UK are determined to fight for their future for the sake of their jobs, their families and their communities.

“There is also a role for the Scottish government to ensure that today’s news does not signal the beginning of the end of Scotland’s steel heritage and that they honour the commitments they gave over the weekend to intervene in the interests of steel making in Scotland.”

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “This is a dark day for the UK steel industry, for the workers and the communities who livelihoods depend on steel. We will be working closely with Tata to find alternatives and to save as many jobs as possible.

“The knock on effects of today’s news combined with Caparo and the closure of Redcar through the supply chain will be devastating. Trade unions, the industry and business groups are all united on the need for the UK government to support the steel industry.

“Sajid Javid is becoming increasingly isolated by his failure to act swiftly to support the steel industry. He and the UK government know what needs to be done and they need to do it quickly. A failure to act and tackle the dumping of cheap Chinese steel will spell the end of steel in the UK.”

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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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