Sunak told to back UK steel in national interest
- Monday 20 March 2023
Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, has written to prime minister Rishi Sunak, calling for urgent action to protect the UK’s sovereign steel making capability. The letter was written in the wake of last week’s budget, which failed to deliver the comprehensive support package the industry urgently needs.
The letter warns Mr Sunak that as a result of the government’s failure to grow steel and make it more internationally competitive “the industry is shrinking and losing skilled jobs”. This is threatening the livelihoods of thousands of workers across Wales, Humberside, Yorkshire and the North East.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Steel is a foundation industry essential for the success of the UK economy. Despite this, due to years of inaction and an abdication of leadership, this essential industry is being left to wither and decline.
“The government must stop prevaricating and immediately bring in the necessary support and reforms needed to promote and boost our steel industry.”
The letter sets out what is needed to place the steel industry on a level footing:
- Investment in line with that given to steel producers in Europe and the United States to invest in technology to meet net zero targets, with electricity or hydrogen replacing coke furnaces. Such investment must be tied to strict job protection guarantees
- A complete revision of UK procurement rules so that all UK infrastructure projects have an obligation to procure UK-made steel. For national security reasons, it must be ensured that the UK has the capacity to produce specialist steel needed in strategic defence projects such as Royal Navy ships in Europe.
- Tackling the UK’s runaway energy costs, which are making steel production in the UK uncompetitive and were, even before the current energy crisis, already far higher than.
Unite, the UK’s leading union, represents thousands of steel workers who are employed throughout the UK’s steel industry.
Notes to editors
Full copy of the letter to Rishi Sunak
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.