Unite steelworkers protesting in Manchester on 4 October. © Mark Harvey/Unite

British government must act to save UK steel industry

22.10.2015

IndustriALL Global Union urges the British government to protect the UK steel industry as one in six steelworkers in the country face redundancy.

It follows the announcement from Tata Steel on 20 October that it will cut 1,200 jobs in Scunthorpe and Scotland.

Last month one of the UK’s biggest steel production sites, situated in Redcar, announced that it would stop production after nearly 100 years leading to the loss of 2,200 jobs. The plant’s Thai owner, SSI, blames falling steel prices as the reason to close Europe’s second largest blast furnace.

Meanwhile, Caparo Industries, a steel products company based in the West Midlands, has also announced that it will go into administration, affecting 1,700 employees.

IndustriALL has three UK trade union affiliates whose members are affected by the mammoth job losses: Unite the Union, Community and GMB.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: 

“Time is ticking on the UK’s steel industry. The news of job losses over the last few days should jolt the government out of its laissez-faire approach to this vital part of the UK economy. 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.”

Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary said:

“Whole communities will be destroyed by these job losses. We urge the government do everything in its power to defend the British steel industry as it struggles to compete with cheap Chinese steel being dumped in Europe. The British government must support the steel industry during this time of difficulty rather than stand by and let it die.”

In May this year, IndustriALL passed a resolution at its Executive Committee meeting in Stockholm supporting Tata workers in their battle to stop pension cuts. Tata had threatened to close the British Steel Pension Scheme in April 2016. However, facing the biggest nationwide strike in 35 years, Tata Steel returned to the negotiating table. In July, members of all three unions voted in favour of new terms, which kept the pension scheme open.