Unite members working for Tata Steel in the UK will join thousands of steelworkers from across Europe in Brussels on Monday (15 February) demanding urgent action to stop the flood of cheap imports into the European Union from China and other countries.
Monday’s march to European Commission and European Parliament comes as the UK government stands accused of betraying steelworkers after it emerged that the secretary of state for business, Sajid Javid MP, had blocked the EU from putting higher trade tariffs on cheap Chinese steel.
In a letter to the secretary of state demanding an explanation, Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke wrote: “There appears to be little justification for this decision and it confirms our view that the government has not yet grasped the crisis affecting the UK steel industry.”
He goes on to add that: “As you know the UK steel unions have fought tooth and nail for the UK steel industry, including at a European level and have fought to get the European Union to take tough action against the dumping of cheap steel, notably from China.
“Our members working in the steel industry are at a loss to understand your government’s policy which I can only describe as breathtakingly short sighted to say the least.”
The march, organised by the European steel association, Eurofer, follows a brutal few months for the UK steel industry which has seen thousands of jobs lost in the wake of cheap imports and high energy costs.
Unite is calling on the UK to act swiftly and decisively to save the British steel industry by tackling the dumping of cheap Chinese steel, helping with business rates and guaranteeing that British steel is used for all major UK infrastructure projects.
Commenting ahead of the march, Unite national officer Harish Patel added: “Government minsters need to start standing shoulder to shoulder with UK steelworkers by demanding swift action from the EU to stop the flood of cheap imports from China and other countries.
“Their refusal to back higher tariffs on cheap Chinese steel will be viewed as nothing short of a betrayal unless Sajid Javid reverses this short-sighted and damaging decision.
“Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods in the UK and across Europe rely on the steel industry which faces a bleak and uncertain future if national governments and the EU fail to act swiftly and decisively. Politicians need to act now 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.