Unions urge support from MPs to save thousands of steel jobs

Steelworkers arrive for yesterdays crisis meeting in London. Picture: AFP/Getty
Steelworkers arrive for yesterdays crisis meeting in London. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Unions are stepping up their campaign to save thousands of jobs in the crisis-hit steel industry with a new plan that needs government support.

An emergency meeting of union representatives from Tata Steel plants across the UK was told of frantic efforts to stop the industry collapsing. The plan was to be presented to the UK Government today.

The unions set out their demands of government, including helping to secure the customer base and guaranteeing production of Tata’s UK steel operations so that customers are not lost following the company’s announcement to sell its UK assets. The government was also urged to work to ensure the integrity of the business is guaranteed, because allowing Tata or other investors to cherry-pick assets will put steelmaking at risk.

Union officials said Tata’s plants are viable but they require investment.

The business needs the investment originally planned by Tata – understood to be £1.5 billion over ten years.

“This level of investment should be achievable given that any buyer would be gaining control of assets worth £4bn,” said a union statement.

“But government support is needed to bridge the two to three years it will take to get back to self-sustainability.”

The unions have engaged steel industry advisers Syndex UK to help develop its plans.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of steelworkers’ union Community, said: “It was clear from our meeting today that steelworkers are the guardians of their industry and they know what action is needed to secure the future of steelmaking in the UK.

“There needs to be a step-change in the level of Government involvement with Tata, its customers and the unions and this is why we have set out our demands.

“The government needs to reassure the customer base, they need to make it clear to Tata that the integrity of the business must be maintained, and the Government must invest in our steel industry to give it a future.”

Harish Patel, national officer of Unite, said: “Steelworkers are united in their view of what the government must do. This business should have a future but it needs immediate action to reassure customers and protect the integrity of the business. We don’t want to hear more warm words from ministers. We want government to work with us to deliver this plan.”