British Steel must come clean

Scunthorpe workforce being failed by greedy employer and shambolic government as Unite vows to fight for jobs

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Unite the union has vowed to fight to defend every job under threat at British Steel’s Scunthorpe plant.

The union made its declaration this week (February 23) after the company confirmed it intends to make approximately 300 workers redundant and close its coking ovens, which produce the fuel to power its blast furnaces.

Unite believes that the proposed job losses are a direct result of the Jingye Group, the Chinese owners of British Steel, and its failure to make good on its commitment to make major investments in the plant and the government’s abject inability to produce a coherent industrial strategy to protect the UK’s steel making capability.

British Steel has currently failed to provide any evidence for the financial justification for closing the coking ovens nor has it provided any information about where it intends to source coke from in the future.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “British Steel workers are faced with the toxic combination of a greedy employer that is reneging on investment promises and a shambolic UK government that has no serious plan for the industry.”

“Unite’s members in British Steel are clear that they will fight this and they will have the full support of their union.

Unite national officer Linda McCulloch added, “This union has not yet seen any financial justification for the closure of the coking ovens. British Steel needs to come clean and open its books in order to try to justify its decisions.

“Unite will pursue every avenue, including industrial action, to defend members’ jobs at British Steel.”

Steel is a foundation industry and the UK’s ability to produce its own steel is fundamental to the future success of the economy.

Earlier this month British Steel indicated that it was intending to make 1,200 workers redundant across all of its operations. However apart from the coke ovens, it has not indicated where the majority of the job losses would come from.

By Ciaran Naidoo