Today’s (Wednesday 1 June) first day of trading for the newly formed British Steel demonstrates steelmaking in the UK can have a bright future and is testament to the skills and sacrifice of the workforce, Britain’s largest union, Unite said today.
Marking the start of new chapter for Scunthorpe and the UK’s proud tradition of steel making, Unite welcomed today’s sale completion of Tata Steel UK’s long products division to Greybull Capital and the formation of the new British Steel company.
Ending months of uncertainty for the workforce and securing jobs, Unite said the vote of confidence in a world class workforce needed to be backed by further government action to ensure UK steelworkers could compete on a level playing field with their international competitors.
Urging the government to allow the European Union to take tougher action on the dumping of cheap Chinese steel and to do more to help with high energy costs and business rates, Unite called on minsters to compel firms building Britain’s infrastructure to use UK steel.
Commenting Unite convenor for British Steel in Scunthorpe, Martin Foster, said: “British Steel’s first day of trading marks the beginning of a new chapter not only for Scunthorpe, but UK steelmaking. It is a massive vote of confidence in a world class workforce and the town of Scunthorpe with its proud history of steelmaking.
“Bringing months of uncertainty to an end, it shows that steelmaking in the UK can have a future. Over the coming months we will be working with the new owners to make the new British Steel a success and ensure it goes from strength to strength.
“It should not be forgotten though, that today would not have been possible if it had not been for the sacrifices the workforce has made as part of the firm’s transformation plan. For many it has involved tough choices about pay and their jobs. They will be working hard to make sure British Steel has a bright future with the expectation that they will share in its future success.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey added: “Today’s first day of trading for British Steel is testament to the skills of the workforce and their union representatives who have worked hard to secure the future of Tata Steel’s former long products division.
“They have demonstrated that with the right backing they can secure a future for steelmaking in the UK. While workers at the newly formed British Steel will be looking to the future with a degree of certainty, they will be mindful of the uncertainty surrounding their former colleagues at Tata Steel sites across the UK.
“Tata Steel owes it to its workforce to continue to be a responsible seller by selling its remaining assets, as one entity, to a buyer which is committed to steelmaking in the long-term.
“The government needs to continue to play its part too. The UK’s steelworkers make some of the best steel in world, but can only forge a bright future, if the government builds on its promises and develops an industrial strategy with a steel heart that puts UK steel first.”
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.