Steelworking in Motherwell comes to an end

The Dalzell works in Motherwell
The Dalzell works in Motherwell

The long-history of steel making in Motherwell is set to come to an end tomorrow (Tuesday) with Tata Steel expected to announce the closure of the Dalzell steelworks.

It is believed about 1,200 jobs are to be axed across three Tata site including 800 at Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire and 400 split between Dalzell and the Clydebridge works in Cambuslang.

Steelmaking will effectively end in Scotland if cuts go ahead at Dalzell and Clydebridge.

Although Tata is yet to publicly confirm its plans, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already pledged to set up a task force to seek a viable future for the plants and the industry.

Trade union Community, which represents steel workers, wants the Government’s task force to support a “short-time working programme” which would keep the plants open while a long-term solution was sought.

Community’s assistant general secretary John Park said: “Scottish steel is facing its biggest test in a generation. These developments are hugely worrying - not only for Scottish industry - but for the communities around Motherwell and Cambuslang.

“Workers in the Scottish steel industry have done everything asked of them to ensure they can compete in a global marketplace. We are in the middle of the worst slump in steel prices in living memory and it is essential we maintain our capacity to produce steel in Scotland.

“We welcome Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of a steel task force, but it cannot simply be an exercise in managing decline. If the Scottish steel industry is to have a future, then Nicola Sturgeon must ensure the strategic assets at Dalzell and Clydebridge are maintained.”

Mr Park also called for a “proper industrial strategy” for the sector to be developed.

“We believe these Scottish sites can be successful and we are ready to work with the Scottish Government and potential investors to secure the future of steel in Scotland,” he said.

“For steel to have that future we must secure the skills of the men and women who work in the industry. That is why we are calling on the Scottish Government to support short-time working programme should that be necessary over the coming weeks.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The First Minister made it clear that if that news is confirmed ... then we will leave no stone unturned.

“We will work with the UK Government, we will work with the unions, with the staff, to look at what can be done. A task force will be established and we will look at what all of the options are.

“It is probably too early to rule anything in or out at this stage.”

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland said: “When Grangemouth, Fergusons and Prestwick Airport were at risk, the Scottish Government stepped in to provide support and to secure jobs.

“They need to do the same now - anything less will not be acceptable.

“This is an iconic industry for our nation and the men and women who work at Clydesdale and Dalzell deserve all possible support.

“We will work together with the UK and Scottish Governments, the companies and trade unions to find a solution.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Since last year, when Tata Steel first announced the potential sale of its long products division, the Scottish Government and its agencies have been in constant contact with both Tata Steel and with the trades unions.

“We continue to be in contact to explore all possible options to find a viable future for the company’s sites in Scotland.

“In the unfortunate event of any redundancies, our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace), stands ready to offer support for affected employees and to work closely with the company and workforce representatives to provide a tailored package of support, should this be required.”

Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, added: “I will continue to support the workforce at Dalzell and Clydebridge and their families during this worrying and stressful time. I will do everything I possibly can to secure these jobs.

“We need multi-agency and government support and I call on the UK and Scottish governments to do all they can to keep these plants open.”