UK Steel Industry is a mere whisker from collapse – Unite

According to the Unite union, the UK’s steel industry supports thousands of jobs and is “a few steps away from collapse”.

It wrote a letter to Grant Shapps, Business Secretary, requesting an urgent meeting to press for more support.

Unite has accused government officials of not taking any meaningful steps to assist the sector, leaving it “at breaking point”.

According to the government, success in the steel industry is a priority.

Steve Turner, Unite’s assistant secretary general, stated in the letter that there were many issues causing industry problems.

These include “crippling energy prices, carbon taxes and lost markets, lower demand, as well as open market access for imported Steel.”

On behalf of two other unions, Community and GMB, Mr Turner wrote to Mr Shapps, stating that the problems faced by British Steel, Tata Steel and Liberty Steel were due to “direct actions taken by your government that have… substantially undermined UK plant competition in global markets”.

Mr Turner said that the industry was at breaking point because there has been little action by government in areas such as UK procurement policy, energy pricing support or support for new plant and technologies.

Many people say that we are “a whisker from collapse”.

He stated that UK steel employs “tens of thousands” of skilled workers and hundreds upon apprentices, and requested an urgent meeting to discuss “current or future government policies” to support the sector.

According to reports, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt may grant a PS300m funding package to British Steel.

Although the Treasury has not confirmed the money, the BBC understands that it would be dependent on Jingye, the Chinese owners of the company, investing in greener technology.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy responded to the letter by saying that the government recognized “the vital role steel plays in the UK’s economy, supporting local jobs and encouraging economic growth.”

It stated that it was “committed” to “securing a sustainable, competitive future for UK’s steel sector,” and added that Mr Shapps “considers success in the steel sector a priority and continues working closely with industry to achieve it.”

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of Business, commented on the proposed funding package to British Steel. He said that the UK’s steel industry has been left “on edge” because the government failed to provide long-term solutions.

Reynolds stated that “endless sticking plaster solutions by the Conservatives have left the UK steel sector on its knees”

“Instead finding a long-term fix, successive Conservative governments have floated from crisis and bailouts without any plan to keep UK Steel internationally competitive or return taxpayers’ investment.”

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