Boris Johnson should swap the rhetoric on UK sovereignty and taking back control for real action, starting with insisting that UK steel is used throughout the construction of the HS2 high-speed railway, Unite said today (October 2)
Claims by government officials that European Union rules prevent them from setting domestic content targets for HS2 are wrong, the union says.
Article 26 of the European-wide procurement directive can be interpreted, and frequently is by France, Germany and other EU nations, to allow public bodies to award procurement contracts based on ‘social value’ to support jobs and to meet environmental ambitions.
The PM previously pledged to do “absolutely everything we can” so that UK steel manufacturers are “at the front of the queue for the great projects we are going to construct”, words Unite describes as meaningless unless he stops hiding his ideological unwillingness to act behind EU rules and ditches the rhetoric for real action.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that procurement from UK companies is the prerequisite for our economy coming out of the deepest recession in 300 years.
‘Workers will no longer pay price of govt inaction’
McCluskey commented, “UK companies and workers rightly expect to be supported by their own government. The prime minister fails our people unless he gets behind a proper plan to save and create jobs. HS2 procurement presents him with the opportunity to prove that UK workers and industries will no longer pay the price of his inaction.”
“These officials quoted by the FT are wrong,” added Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.
“EU rules don’t prevent us or anyone else from setting domestic content targets in support of social and economic value objectives, jobs and communities. If Johnson’s rhetoric about UK sovereignty and jobs, jobs, jobs is to mean anything beyond the soundbite, it must mean that when his government is spending taxpayers’ money on UK infrastructure like HS2, we procure steel, construction materials and rolling stock manufactured here.”
‘Taking back control’?
Turner continued, “While we are meant to be ‘taking back control’, government contracts for HS2 have being awarded to overseas companies who are now shamelessly procuring steel and other materials from their own subsidiary companies overseas. This ‘insider dealing’ with our hard earned money must be immediately stopped before it’s too late and UK workers are left once again paying the price for Tory failure and a betrayal of UK interests.
“The PM’s words are meaningless unless he ditches the rhetoric for real actions and there’s no better place to finally start batting for Britain, defending UK jobs and our manufacturing industries, than his insisting on UK steel for HS2,” concluded Turner.
By Jennie Walsh