SNP facing calls for Holyrood steel statement

Staff at Tata face an uncertain future. Picture:  Lisa Ferguson

Staff at Tata face an uncertain future. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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The Scottish Government is being urged to make an emergency Holyrood statement on the crisis steel industry crisis as the last two heavy plants in Scotland face closure.

Tata Steel is to mothball its plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang with the loss of 270 jobs.

Tata steelworks is faced with closure unless a buyer is found. Picture:  Lisa Ferguson

Tata steelworks is faced with closure unless a buyer is found. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Nicola Sturgeon will visit both plants tomorrow ahead of the first meeting of a task force established by the First Minister which will attempt to save them.

Labour MSP James Kelly, a member of the Task Force, has said the SNP Government must update Parliament on the outcome of the meeting and set out the specific actions that will be taken to protect jobs and secure a future for the steel industry.

“The steel industry is an iconic part of the culture, community and economy of Lanarkshire,” Mr Kelly said.

“Generations of families have worked at the plants in Clydebridge and Dalzell. We must move heaven and earth to save jobs and secure a future for the steel industry in Scotland.

Setting up a task force is a welcome move, but it cannot be a talking shop

James Kelly

“Setting up a task force is a welcome move, but it cannot be a talking shop. The SNP Government must make a statement to Parliament on Thursday after the first task force meeting to set out the specific actions they will take to provide a lifeline for the steel industry.

“There are a number of steps the SNP Government can take, including looking at whether major infrastructure projects being undertaken by the public sector could support the steel industry through the procurement process.”

The task force will bring together government, trade unions, North and South Lanarkshire Council representatives, as well as local MSPs and MPs. Tata Steel announced just a 45 day consultation period on jobs yesterday, which makes the situation even more urgent.

Mr Kelly added: “The SNP Government must also take a broader look at the future of traditional industries in Scotland. From shipbuilding to oil and gas to steel, too many industries have been rocked by rapid global forces. We need a comprehensive, forensic review into how we secure the future of these industries. Constant firefighting when bad news hits is no substitute for a long-term strategy.”

Business minister Fergus Ewing today pledged that the “full force” of the Government’s enterprise network will be used to find a new commercial operator for the two plants.

“The primary objective is to find another commercial operator. We assess that is not an easy task.

“We go in this with the full force and activity of the enterprise network, and we will use every means at our disposal to assist any commercial operator that expresses an interest to realise the objective of the continuance of the steel industry in Scotland.”

The Lanarkshire plants process steel from Tata’s plant in Scunthorpe.

Asked if the Scottish plants can be a viable business on their own, Mr Ewing said: “Perhaps it is possible to purchase steel more cheaply than it was from Tata.

“There are different models here, we are not looking for a buyer for the whole of Tata.”

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