A Tory MP, who has suggested that keeping the Redcar steelworks open would be ‘bad economics, has been branded as ‘callous and uncaring’ by Unite, the country’s largest union today (Wednesday 30 September).
Nadhim Zahawi Stratford-on-Avon MP said that it would be “bad economics” to advocate investing to save the Redcar steel plant from closure.
Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) has decided to mothball the Teesside plant after production was paused this month due to a drop in steel prices resulting in about 1,700 job losses. The plant has been hit by a glut of cheap Chinese steel.
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke was scathing about Mr Zahawi’s remarks, calling them ‘callous and uncaring – an absolute disgrace’.
Tony Burke said: “The government needs to intervene to provide the necessary assistance to keep the plant in a state of readiness should a buyer emerge in the coming months.
“It is clear that other EU countries take a more lax interpretation of EU regulations when it comes to supporting their own steel industries. Ministers should take note of that fact.
“With so many livelihoods at stake and the UK steel industry at crisis point government ministers need to follow the lead of their counterparts in France, Italy and Germany by pursuing an active industrial strategy which supports the UK’s steel industry
“Nadhim Zahawi’s comments coldly ignore the plight of the workers, their families and the local community. Their livelihoods should not be sacrificed on the altar of international capitalism.
“What is clear is that the government has no manufacturing strategy and we are slipping back into a reliance on the City and the service sector. So much for the much-vaunted march of the makers.
“The Northern Powerhouse will continue to be a mirage in the mind of chancellor George Osborne unless there is a strong manufacturing base across the whole of the north of England.
“Unite works closely with industry leaders to achieve good industrial relations on a daily basis; the renaissance in the car industry being a prime example.
Unite is prepared to work day-and-night with all interested parties to resurrect the Redcar plant.”
Yesterday Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the government to ‘step in at the 12th hour’ and defend the plant’s workers ‘like the Italian government has done’ in similar circumstances.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
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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.