Unite which represents thousands of members in all areas of the steel industry, is urging that the government to take immediate action to stabilise the industry.
Unite raised its concerns ahead of a debate in the House of Commons today (June 21) following disclosures that the government is considering removing tariffs on various steel imports, which see cheap imports entering the UK.
The government’s plans are particularly worrying as the European Union recently decided to maintain tariffs on steel imports making the UK market even more attractive for cheap imports.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said, “Steel is a foundation industry which requires direct government support as it as a strategic asset.
“But there is a real danger that a combination of ideology and the wrong political choices will open the gates to cheap imports, which will costs thousands of skilled jobs and devastate local communities,” he added.
“The UK’s steel industry is essential to the UK’s post Covid-19 recovery, providing the steel needed to build hospitals, schools, rail and electric vehicles.
“In order for the industry to thrive it requires stability and a level playing field, and the truth is successive governments have failed to provide the stability the industry needs,” Turner continued.
“Steel workers and their communities have been living with horrific uncertainties for far too long so will be watching this debate to see who stands with them. Government must not make matters worse. No other major economy would allow its strategic industries to be left to the whims of the free market like this.
“Not only must the lifting of tariffs be ruled out but strict public procurement rules must be introduced to ensure that UK steel is used when major public projects, including new power stations, HS2, naval and auxiliary ships and other major infrastructure projects are tendered,” he went on to say.
“At the same time, the government must urgently review the extortionate charges that UK steel has to pay for energy and business rates, which make UK steel manufacturing struggle to be competitive against steel produced in Europe and elsewhere.”
By Barckley Sumner