Government urged to keep Redcar coke ovens alight amid...

Government urged to keep Redcar coke ovens alight amid steelworker support package warnings

02 October 2015

Britain’s largest union, Unite urged ministers to intervene and keep the coke ovens at the Redcar steelworks warm so that production could be resumed in the future and warned that its support package for SSI steelworkers was a ‘drop in the ocean’.

The call comes as it emerged today (Friday 2 October) that Thai firm SSI, owners of the Redcar steelworks, is to go into liquidation. Around 1,700 jobs are set to go after SSI announced earlier this week it was mothballing iron and steelmaking.

The union warned that the decision to liquidate the firm would see the remaining 500 jobs go and the coke ovens run cold, resulting in damage to the ovens and making it less likely for a buyer to be found.

Commenting Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “Government ministers need to go further than the support package they have announced and intervene to keep the coke ovens alight. Once those ovens go cold then the hopes of finding another buyer will fade and the light on a proud tradition of steelmaking will be snuffed out.

“This is a tremendously distressing time for our members who have bills and mortgages to pay and the Redcar community which wants to retain high skilled decent jobs.

“The support package on offer is a drop in the ocean. It simply doesn’t go far enough in giving redundant SSI workers the financial security they need, nor will it fill the void left in the local economy or sufficiently deal with the knock on effect in the supply chain.

“The heart of a community in a region with high unemployment is being ripped out. If the government wants to make its ‘Northern Powerhouse’ a reality and rebalance the economy then it needs to follow the lead of its French, Italian and German counterparts and support steelmaking in the UK by keeping the light burning at Redcar.”

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.