The hard-pressed UK steel industry gained a much-needed fillip as Sheffield Forgemasters received a £30 million support package from three of the country’s leading manufacturers.
Unite today (January 29) welcomed the news that Babcock International, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce Holdings had agreed to underwrite bank loans to the steelmaker in a deal, it is understood, that was brokered by the Ministry of Defence.
“In these days of great uncertainty for steelworkers, this is, at least, some good news and a much-needed lifeline for a vitally important business,” Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said.
“We applaud Babcock, BAE and Rolls Royce for investing in skilled UK workers and our UK steel sector. The thousands of workers, who depend on Forgemasters in some way for their job, will rest a bit easier today, but we are still deeply concerned about the plight of the UK steel sector more generally,” he added.
“It is in the midst of a crisis that could threaten its very existence, so we say to the government, yet again, take a lead from these businesses and invest in our steel makers.
“It has been depressing and shameful to see contracts that should have gone to UK steel businesses being passed by the government to our overseas competitors,” Burke went on to say.
“This has to end now – we cannot have the government’s procurement processes pose a threat to a vital sector as it fights off attacks to its future from cheap Chinese imports and high business costs.”
Sheffield Forgemasters has been hit by the broader crisis affecting the steel industry, which has seen more than 5,000 steel jobs being lost in the last four months.
Only last week, Sheffield Forgemasters announced that 100 jobs were to be axed from the 700-strong workforce as it battled declining revenues from customers in the oil and gas sectors.