Further pressure was mounting on government ministers today (Wednesday 20 January) to support the UK steel industry as it emerged that specialist steelmaker Sheffield Forgemasters is to shed up to 100 jobs as part of a survival package.
The news was met by renewed calls from Britain’s largest union Unite for the government to turn guidance on infrastructure procurement into orders and for the UK steel industry to be given a level playing field with its competitors.
Calling for cast iron guarantees that if it’s built for Britain it uses British steel, the union urged minsters to give assurances that there wouldn’t be a repeat of the phase one tendering process for Hinckley Point C.
British firms such as Sheffield Forgemasters, which specialise in steel castings for the energy and civil nuclear industry, were reportedly excluded from the process.
In addition to job cuts to the 700 strong workforce it is expected that there will be contractual changes over the next two years as the company implements its turnaround plan.
Commenting Harish Patel Unite national officer for steel said: “World class companies like Sheffield Forgemasters need urgent support and a level playing field with their international competitors if they are to survive.
“It wasn’t that long ago that government ministers pulled the plug on a loan that would have allowed Sheffield Forgemasters to invest in new equipment making it more productive.
“The government now needs to right that wrong by guaranteeing that British companies such as Sheffield Forgemasters are never again excluded from tendering for British infrastructure projects.
“If it’s made for Britain then it should be built using British steel. Firms such as Forgemasters should be looking forward to helping build the new gas and nuclear power plants which are in the pipeline, not left fighting for their survival on an uneven playing field.
“Over the coming weeks and months Unite will be working closely with the company to secure its long-term future and supporting our members through this difficult time. But yet again we urge the government to act swiftly and decisively to secure the future of our steel industry as part of an active industrial strategy before it’s too late.”
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.