UK steelworkers will be in Brussels today (Monday 9 November) urging business secretary Sajid Javid and his European counterparts to take urgent action to stop the dumping of cheap Chinese steel at the emergency EU council of ministers.
Joined by Belgian and French steel unions, the steelworkers from Unite, Community and the GMB will be demonstrating outside the Justus Lipsius Building, 175 Rue de la Loi Brussels from 15:00 where the meeting of ministers is set to take place at 16:30 local time.
The meeting comes amid growing pressure on the UK government over its failure to step in to assist the country’s crisis hit steel industry, which is being hammered by a flood of subsidised Chinese steel and energy tariffs double that of their European competitors.
A Survation survey for Unite last week showed that almost seven in 10 (68 per cent) want the government to intervene to ensure the UK steel industry’s long term survival. On public infrastructure projects, just 13 per cent believed the government should import steel from other countries to seek the lowest price, regardless of origin.
Among all voters there was overwhelming support for the government to pursue a British steel first policy. Three quarters of all voters and 73 per cent of Conservative voters said the government should do all it can to ensure publically funded contracts support the UK steel industry.
Commenting Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “Hiding behind the EU as an excuse to do nothing will not wash with the tens of thousands of workers whose livelihoods depend on steelmaking in the UK.
“The business secretary Sajid Javid needs to secure urgent action from today’s meeting to tackle the dumping of cheap Chinese steel and high energy costs. Nothing should be off the table, including a refusal to grant China market economy status while it fails to abide by EU rules on fair trade.
“Sajid Javid also needs to use the opportunity to learn from his counterparts in countries such as Germany and Italy and follow their lead in developing an industrial strategy with steel at its heart.
“Anything less and the continued failure by ministers to urgently intervene to support UK steel will push the crisis hit industry into meltdown.”
Unite is calling on the government to support a key component of the UK economy by taking action to stop the ‘dumping’ of cheap Chinese steel, help with high energy costs and business rates, as well as ensuring major infrastructure projects use British steel.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Survation, on behalf of Unite the union, interviewed 1,013 GB adults aged 18+ from the 27th-28th October 2015. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
- 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.