Steelworkers march on London

steelHundreds of steelworkers yesterday marched through London to demand the government protects the future of Tata Steel in the UK.

Members of Community, GMB and Unite want the government firstly to ensure the responsible sale of Tata Steel’s UK assets and secondly deliver a proper industrial strategy that supports the entire steel sector throughout the current crisis and into a profitable future.

The steelworkers were joined by employers, industry experts, Dutch trade unions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP and TUC general secretary, Francis O’Grady.

They represented their workmates, families and communities from every steel town in the country. Representatives marched from all Tata Steel sites while other businesses represented included Celsa, Outokumpu, Kiveton Park, Harsco, Interserve and others.

Community’s general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “George Osborne once said that he wanted ‘a march of the makers’, well today he’s got one. We are the steel makers and we are marching for our futures.

“For months, the ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign has engaged hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. This march will bring steelworkers to London to focus all our attention on delivering a clear message to government: save our jobs, support our communities and deliver the fantastic future for British steelmaking we know it can have.

“Over the past few weeks I have visited every steelworks at risk. I have listened to the hopes and fears of hundreds of steelworkers and I will make sure those views are heard when Tata is assessing the various bids.”

GMB national officer Dave Hulse said: “It took the government a long time to understand how serious this steel crisis is. This march was an opportunity for all unions to send a clear message that we need a long term strategy to support our industry and safeguard vital jobs.

“Unless the UK government takes urgent action to save the steel industry as part of a strategy to close the balance of payments deficit which is over 5% of GDP a further recession in the UK is inevitable. A deficit of this magnitude is unsustainable and saving the UK steel industry is the first step in the right direction for the UK economy.

“GMB expect Tata to sell to a responsible buyer that is in it for the long term. We don’t want to be back in this position in twelve months’ time.”

Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “Steelworkers from across the country have taken the day off work to represent their communities in London to ‘Save our Steel’ and remind Tata of its commitment to be a responsible seller.

“They make some of the best steel in world, but can only continue to do so if Tata sells to a buyer who is committed to the long-term and helping secure a sustainable future.

“The government needs to continue to play its part too and build on the promises it’s made by allowing the European Union to take tougher action on the dumping of cheap Chinese steel and ensure a level playing field for UK steelworkers with more help on high energy costs and business rates.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “We are standing with steelworkers because the government must take action to secure the future of this vital and strategic industry.”


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