Unite general secretary Len McCluskey will warn the government that it risks betraying steelworkers and their industry, if it fails to guarantee the use of UK steel in major infrastructure projects such as HS2, when he meets steelworkers later today (March 21).
Speaking to Unite members at British Steel in Scunthorpe, Len McCluskey will say the government’s decision to make steel a ‘low priority’ as part of its industrial strategy was an insult to steelworkers who had battled to save their industry.
Urging government ministers to instruct, rather than issue guidance, that UK steel should be used in infrastructure and defence projects, McCluskey called on ministers to enact a policy of if ‘it’s built for Britain, it should be made by Britain’.
In addition to Unite members, Len McCluskey will also be meeting with British Steel executives for an update on progress after the company’s change of ownership last year.
Commenting ahead of his meetings McCluskey said, “British Steel workers and their former colleagues at Tata Steel UK have fought tooth-and-nail to ensure steel has a future in the UK. They and their families have made great sacrifices in doing so, because they recognise the importance of steel as a key foundation industry and a source for decent jobs on which their communities rely on.
“The government’s classification of steel as a low priority in its industrial strategy displays a degree of complacency about the UK’s steel industry, with many steelworkers viewing it as an insult,” he added.
“Steel is a key foundation industry and crucial to renewal of the nation’s infrastructure. The UK government must make it a priority in its industrial strategy and guarantee that UK steel is used in rail projects, such as HS2, as well as other infrastructure and defence projects.
“Ministers as part of public procurement need to instruct that UK steel is used, rather than relying on the present guidance, to ensure that UK industry and the UK economy benefits from major infrastructure investment.”