UK Government Must Ensure Steel Manufacturing Has Guaranteed Production, Significant Investment And An Intact Business
The UK government need to be loud and clear to instil confidence in customers and steelworkers that this business will have a future says GMB.
Steelworkers meeting in London today have made three new demands of government to secure UK steel making. One hundred steelworkers from across the UK gathered at the TUC’s Congress House to formulate a plan for their industry following Tata Steel’s decision to divest its UK assets. (See notes to editors for previous GMB press releases about the steel industry).
The unions have set out the following three demands of government:
1. To secure the customer base, the government must take immediate action to guarantee the production of Tata’s UK steel operations so that customers are not lost following Tata Steel’s announcement.
2. The government must work to ensure the integrity of the business is guaranteed. SSI has shown that a blast-furnace only operation in the UK is not sustainable. Allowing Tata or other investors to cherry-pick assets will put steel making at risk.
3. The plants are viable but they require investment. The issue isn't competing on cost but the attractiveness of the product range. This means the business needs the investment originally planned by Tata – understood to be £1.5bn over 10 years. This level of investment should be achievable given that any buyer would be gaining control of assets worth £4bn. But Government support is needed to bridge the 2-3 years it will take to get back to self-sustainability. Within European rules, the government can support the business with:
a. Green investment - in a new power plant, the coke ovens and the blast furnace to make Port Talbot a world class example of low-carbon, blast furnace steel making.
b. R&D investment - to enable the business to develop high value products that can secure new markets and sustain the business.
c. Skills investment - to support a transition to high-value, low carbon steel production.
The steel unions have engaged expert steel industry advisors Syndex UK to help with further development of their plans.
Dave Hulse, GMB National Officer, said: “There is no time for further delay from this government. They need to be loud and clear to instil confidence in customers and steelworkers that this business will have a future.
Government must also hold Tata to being a responsible seller. You can’t rush selling off the UK steel industry and needs everybody to work together in the best interests of our industrial security and steel communities across the UK.”
Speaking after the meeting, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:“It was clear from our meeting today that steelworkers are the guardians of their industry and they know what action is needed to secure the future of steel making in the UK.There needs to be a step-change in the level of government involvement with Tata, its customers and the unions and this is why we have set out our three demands.
First of all, the government needs to reassure the customer base. Second they need to make it clear to Tata that the integrity of the business must be maintained, Tata must be a responsible seller and they must allow time for a deal to be done. Finally, the government must invest in our steel industry to give it a future.”
Harish Patel, Unite National Officer, said “Steelworkers are united in their view of what the government must do. This business should have a future but it needs immediate action to reassure customers and protect the integrity of the business. We don’t want to hear more warm words from ministers. We want government to work with us to deliver this plan, invest in the future of steel making and protect the jobs of thousands of steelworkers across the UK.”
Contact: Dave Hulse 07971 266157 or GMB press office on 07970 863 411 or 07739 182 691
Notes to Editors
1 GMB press release dated Wednesday, March 30, 2016
GMB Call For Immediate Government Action To Save Tata Steel Jobs
We have to look at nationalising the steel industry, even over a short period of time, to protect these assets says GMB.
GMB, the union for workers in the steel industry, commented on the announcement from Tata Steel that it planned to sell off its UK business, putting GMB members’ jobs at significant risk. (See notes to editors for previous GMB press releases on the UK steel industry).
The restructuring plan, announced on Tuesday 29th March, will affect GMB members at Tata’s Port Talbot site along with those at other UK plants including those in Rotherham, Corby and Shotton. Tata blamed the “significant increase in third country exports into Europe” and “continued weakness in domestic market demand in steel” for the decision.
UK Business Minister Anna Soubry told the BBC that the government would consider all options to save Tata’s British business, including taking a temporary stake in the business.
Dave Hulse, GMB national officer, said “This is absolutely devastating news for all our members, their families and the local communities. Tata has let the whole of the UK steel industry down.
The plan that was presented to the board deserved to be given time to see if the market improved and it just goes to show what we have thought for a long time, that Tata wanted out and have misled everyone.
GMB members have done everything that has been asked of them and, just when it was needed, Tata lost their nerve.
GMB have been involved in steel meetings over many months with government ministers and all we have seen is crisis after crisis, which demonstrates that these have been nothing more than talking shops.
We have to look at nationalising the steel industry. Even over a short period of time this will be needed to protect the assets. Otherwise, we will end up with the same situation we had with SSI in the North East where the government badly let everyone down.
The government needs to act now and support the steel industry; we are fed up with the false promises. Help is needed now otherwise these communities will never recover from this. Shame on Tata Steel.”
2 Copy of GMB press release dated Tuesday, March 1, 2016
GMB To Attend The First Meeting Of The Steel Council On Wednesday 2 March 2016
We have gone from crisis to crisis and fear for the long term future of the UK Steel Industry says GMB.
GMB will attend the first meeting of the Steel Council with government ministers, UK Steel and other representatives and trade unions to stand up for the future of the UK steel industry. The meeting will look at how to address long-term issues for the steel sector and propose steps to protect the industry.
This meeting comes on the back of 2,200 redundancies from the SSI owned Redcar steelworks, 1,200 Tata redundancies in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire and over 700 In Port Talbot. Other proposed redundancies in Rotherham, Stocksbridge, Wednesbury, Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool have led to over 5,000 jobs lost over the past few months which has devastated communities throughout the UK.
The steel industry is vital to the UK, directly employing almost 18,000 people in production and contributing around £9.5bn to the economy.
Dave Hulse GMB National Officer said “We are looking for real progress being made with the formulation of this new group. Since the Steel Summit on the 16th October 2015 things have been moving at a very slow pace.
We have gone from crisis to crisis and really need to see action now otherwise GMB fears for the long term future of the steel industry.”
3 Copy of GMB press release dated 29th January 2016
GMB OUTRAGE OVER EU COMMISSION IMPOSING LOW DUTIES ON DUMPED CHINESE STEEL AS TOOTHLESS ACTION WILL DO NOTHING TO SAVE JOBS
Members to join protest in Brussels on 15th February outside the next EU talking shop over intolerable failure of EU to take action says GMB
GMB, the union for steel workers, commented on the decision by the EU to impose a duty of between 9.2% and 13% on dumped Chinese reinforcement steel bar (rebar) after considering the matter for nearly a year.
Dave Hulse, GMB National Officer, said “The Commission’s own investigations of Chinese exports show a dumping margin of more than 60% on reinforcement steel bar used in the construction industry.
So the EU decision to impose a duty between 9.2% and 13% on dumped Chinese rebar demonstrates that Brussels is either sleep walking or deliberately allowing the destruction of the UK steel industry.
We need Prime Minister Cameron to get off the fence and forcefully tell Brussels that this toothless action will do nothing whatsoever to assist the UK steel industry.
The EU Commission is now directly responsible for bringing more misery to the industry that has been rocked with job losses and communities that are being destroyed.
This once again demonstrates that market economy status should not be granted to the Chinese But we all know Cameron has different views on that. If action is not taken to increase the duties then it leaves the whole of the industry at risk.
This failure by EU politicians to act to stop to stop the dumping of Chinese steel from a country that is not a market economy is intolerable. This why GMB is joining a protest in Brussels on 15th February outside the next EU talking shop to demand action not endless meetings. See notes to editors for copy previous GMB release on this.”
Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer, said “Last November the EU Commission and the EU Council admitted that the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the EU steel sector are under serious threat from wholesale dumping of Chinese steel.
Worker and their communities expect the EU Commission to get it’s act together and take decisive action and quickly. Tinkering around the edges with low level duties is derisory and will do nothing to stem the flood. Duties have to be set at dissuasive levels to protect jobs.
The UK Government bears a lot of responsibility for this failure of the EU to act by placing a higher priority on not upsetting the Chinese Government than on protecting UK steel jobs. GMB members find this toothless action outrageous.”
4 GMB press release dated 22nd January 2016
ACTION OR LACK OF ACTION BY POLITICIANS LED TO NEARLY 2,000 STEEL JOB LOSSES ON TEESSIDE SAYS GMB
Members to join protest in Brussels on 15th Feb over intolerable failure by EU to act on dumping of Chinese steel in the face of jobs carnage says GMB
GMB, the union for steel workers, commented on the DWP report showing that just under 2,000 former employees/supply chain employees of the SSI plant in Redcar have made a claim for jobseekers' allowance since October. See notes to editors for copy of DWP report on Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) Redcar closure dated January 2016.
Micheal Blench, GMB regional officer, said “Politicians are not slow to tell workers that their economic fate relies on the market and their position in it. This is not the case on Teesside and other steel town.
The nearly 2,000 steel workers who lost their jobs on Teesside did so as a direct result of the actions of some politicians and the failure of others to act. These politicians failed to listen to repeated warnings of the adverse consequences of their policies.
It was politicians who failed to exempt energy intensive industries from the green levies they imposed on energy bills until it was too late for workers on Teesside.
EU politicians are still failing to act to stop to stop the dumping of Chinese steel from a country that is not a market economy. This failure to act is intolerable. This why GMB is joining a protest in Brussels on 15th February outside the next EU talking shop to demand action not endless meetings.”
5 GMB press release dated Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Tata Steel Letter Of Intent To Sell Long Products Steel Business To Greybull Capital Is A Welcome Development Says GMB
It is essential that the UK Government plays a full part in securing a level playing field to enable this essential industry to survive and thrive says GMB.
GMB, the union for steel workers, commented on the announcement that Tata Steel signed a Letter of Intent with Greybull Capital to enter exclusive negotiations for the potential sale of its Long Products Europe business. See notes to editors for copies of press statements by Tata Steel and Greybull Capital.
About 5,000 people are employed at Long Products Europe and its distribution facilities. The main facilities are based at Scunthorpe integrated steelworks, including its mills; Teesside Beam Mill, Lackenby; Special Profiles, Skinningrove; Dalzell Plate Mill and Clydebridge Quench & Temper Mill.
David Hulse, GMB National Officer, said "GMB see this news as a welcome development. The next step is the due diligence process and we expect local GMB representatives to be fully involved.
This is an exceptionally challenging time for the UK steel industry. It is essential that the UK Government plays a full part in securing a level playing field to enable this essential industry to survive and thrive."