Our Vice-President, Jacquie Thomas spoke in the debate on the steel industry at the IndustriALL Europe conference this week.
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Could I first of all begin by taking this opportunity to thank you for your support and solidarity? It is much appreciated and I bring fraternal greetings from our members and Executive Committee.
The situation with the UK Steel Industry at the moment is probably best described as challenging.
Our members are facing life-changing cuts to their employment, terms and conditions and pensions. However, owing to their strength, courage and determination we fight on and Congress we shall overcome.
But we realise that we are not alone, the European Steel Industry is also in a very difficult situation at present, with more than 80,000 European jobs lost between the period 2008 – 2014.
Despite a gradual upturn the EU Steel Industry itself has not been able to take advantage. It is often forgotten that the UK also exports and imports from the EU.
This situation in the European market is further compounded by the fact that too much capacity reduction, particularly since 2009, has favoured imports.
It is therefore imperative that Brussels gets off its backside and helps to put industry back to
There was much fanfare around the Steel Action Plan and talk of Industrial Renaissance, but the time for talking is over, we need action, because all our members future rests on European Steel.
So, what is to be done ? First and foremost we need a level playing field within the EU and Internationally, this is clear.
We support this motion and we support free trade, however Congress, Globalisation should no
t be exempted from the rules of the game and needs to abide and comply with the same limits as everyone else.
Free trade however can only work if it is held to account and its excesses are limited by fairness. It is fairness that should define the limits of freedom offered by globalisation. This is what our members expect us to deliver and we should not hide from this expectation.
We therefore support free and fair trade.
Congress, UK Steelmakers can compete in a free market, however it is clear that this is not what we are operating in and I will use China as an example. Losses at China’s 101 biggest steel firms were $11bn dollars in the first 10 months of 2015.This signifies close to $34 dollars of losses for every tonne of crude steel. What country can sustain these losses in a free market?
Congress, China should not be exempt from playing by the rules and let us be clear about this ,neither should anyone else for that matter.
Congress, support this motion and support free and fair trade, our future rests on European Steel.