The UK government’s failure to act swiftly and decisively to support the UK steel industry is leaving it on the verge of wipe out warned Britain’s largest union, Unite as it urged Tata Steel to guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies following the announcement to axe over 1,000 jobs.
Today’s (Monday 18 January) announcement sees the bulk of the jobs going at Port Talbot and Llanwern in Tata Steel’s UK strips business, in addition to losses at Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool.
Describing the announcement as more ‘grim news’ for steel and manufacturing communities Unite repeated its call for the UK government to take urgent action to stop the dumping of cheap Chinese steel.
Warning the government is doing ‘too little, too late,’ Unite also urged ministers to turn guidance on procurement for infrastructure projects into orders and to give cast iron guarantees that if it’s built for Britain it uses British steel.
Commenting, Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “This is yet more grim news for the UK’s world class steel industry. We will be doing everything we can to support our members while pressing Tata Steel for guarantees on no compulsory redundancies.
“The knock on effects of these latest job losses will be felt throughout the supply chain and the wider manufacturing community across the UK torpedoing George Osborne’s promise to rebalance the economy.
“When will the penny drop with government ministers that a strategically important part of the UK economy faces wipe out because of their continued failure to take decisive and swift action? It dropped years ago with countries like Germany and the USA who support their steel industry, but has so far failed to do so with minsters here in the UK.
“Guidance from the government on the procurement of British steel for infrastructure projects is all well and good, but it needs to be urgently turned into orders and cast iron guarantees that if it’s built for Britain it uses British steel.
“The consequences of not taking action to decisively support our steel industry and tackle the dumping of Chinese steel will be more devastating announcements like the one today.”
Andy Richards, Unite Wales secretary, added: “Steel runs through the heart of the Welsh economy and through the veins of the communities affected by this announcement.
“With a proud tradition of steelmaking, some of the best steel in the world is made in Wales. Job losses on this scale will reverberate through the supply chain, communities and associated industries across Wales.
“Over the coming days we will be working closely with the first minister Carwyn Jones and economy minister Edwina Hart to ensure workers and communities have a secure future and get the support they need.
“People should be under no illusion. Inaction by the Conservative government in Westminster to decisively support the steel industry now threatens the future of the Welsh steel industry. It is time for ministers in London to provide maximum assistance to the Welsh government and to act swiftly to save our steel.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.