Britain’s largest union Unite will be urging ministers to keep the coke ovens at Redcar burning and develop an industrial strategy with a ‘heart of steel’ at tomorrow’s (Friday 16 October) steel summit in Rotherham.
The summit comes amid warnings that the UK steel industry is at a crisis point following the closure of SSI in Redcar and the government’s continued refusal to keep the coke ovens at the site burning until a buyer can be found.
Pointing to major infrastructure projects, such as HS2, the union will warn that the government’s much vaunted ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and ‘March of the Makers’ will be empty rhetoric, unless it intervenes to support steelmaking in Redcar and the rest of the UK.
Urging ministers to take action to protect UK steel from the ‘dumping’ of cheap steel from China, Unite will press ministers to adopt a similar approach to their German counterparts in developing an industrial strategy that supports skilled jobs in the UK and ensures British industry reaps the benefits of major infrastructure projects.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke, who will be attending the summit, said: “The steel industry is at crisis point. Unless the government pursues an industrial strategy with a ‘steel heart’ then soundbites like ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and ‘March of the Makers’ will be nothing more than empty rhetoric for communities who rely on skilled jobs in steel and manufacturing.
“Ministers need to start by keeping the coke ovens at Redcar burning and supporting the wider steel industry through these turbulent times, so that British industry can benefit from major infrastructure projects, such as HS2.
“A failure to do so will torpedo any ambition to the rebalance the economy and lay waste to communities and key industrial assets. The clock is ticking. It’s time for the government to stop washing its hands of the industry and intervene to support steel.
“The Germans do it through an active industrial strategy and the Italians do it by intervening directly in their steel industry making a mockery of ministers’ claims that EU rules forbid it.”
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.