MP urges ‘stand up for steel’

Frank Roy MP and Ross Clark, Dalzell Steelworks Community union rep, 'Stand Up For Steel'
Frank Roy MP and Ross Clark, Dalzell Steelworks Community union rep, 'Stand Up For Steel'

Motherwell and Wishaw MP Frank Roy has given his backing to the Community trade union’s ‘Stand up for Steel’ campaign.

The steel union, which represents the majority of workers at Dalzell Steel Works in Motherwell, launched its campaign following a debate in Parliament last week about the future of the industry.

Steelworkers want the government to provide more support to their industry so that they can compete effectively against steel producers in Europe and around the world.

Frank said: “I’m calling on the Government to stand up for steel.

“Steel is a vital foundation industry, but not enough has been done to make sure that UK steel remains competitive.

“The government made a lot of noise about its compensation package for energy intensive industries, but most of that will not be available until April 2016.

“This is too long to wait for UK steel, which is facing major challenges today, so mitigation is needed now.

“Steel is all around us and is the bedrock of our manufacturing base. The industry employs 30,000 people directly and for every steel job there are three more jobs supported in the wider economy.

“The future of the steel industry should be of concern to us all, which is why the government needs to act now.”

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss explained the four key demands of the campaign.

He said: “The government can start by bringing forward the compensation package for energy intensive industries which is not due to be implemented until 2016.

“With the current challenges the industry is facing and with energy costs in France and Germany up to 60 per cent cheaper, a year is too long to wait.

“Ministers should also make sure that they are using their procurement powers to deliver for UK steel, which is a strategic supplier for UK infrastructure.

“The Prime Minister needs to stand up for steel in Europe. This means making sure the UK gets the same state aid clearance that France and Germany have secured for their steel industries.

“It also requires the Government to endorse European Commission efforts to stop steel dumping into Europe, which is having a damaging effect on the UK steel industry.

“Finally, the government should encourage steel employers to work with trade unions so that together we can build a sustainable future for the industry.”

In the Westminster steel debate, held last Wednesday, the Government refused to bring forward its compensation package for energy intensive industry.

In the coming days steelworkers will be sending postcards to the Prime Minister calling on him to ‘stand up for steel’.

Community union rep at Dalzell Steel Works, Ross Clark said: “It’s great that Frank is backing our campaign.

“It’s been a tough few years for the steel industry and the difficult times are not over yet.

“Another year seems a long time to wait until we get more support– we need help now.

“Steelworkers and the wider community are looking to the Government so we can secure the future of our industry, but all we hear are warm words when what we need is action.”

Back in October Tata Steel announced plans to sell off its Long Products Europe division which includes Dalzell.

The Indian firm signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Swiss-based Klesch Group to undertake detailed due diligence and negotiations, although it’s understood they’ll now consider other offers.