This article by Roy Rickhuss originally appeared in the Sunday Mirror.
The Northern Powerhouse is a great idea. We need a government that supports our communities and businesses in the north of England but sadly, David Cameron and George Osborne have been all talk with little action.
One of the sectors that my trade union, Community, represents is Britain’s steel industry. Recent events at the steelworks in Redcar have shown that despite the big conference speeches, when it came to rolling up their sleeves and helping save thousands of jobs, the Tories were nowhere to be seen. The so called ‘Minister for the Northern Powerhouse’ even called the closure of the Redcar steelworks a “distraction.”
I am keen to work in partnership with the government to help build a sustainable future for Britain’s steel industry, but they have got to offer more than simply warm words of support. The recent reports that almost 1,000 jobs are at risk in the North’s other major steelworks in Scunthorpe is another bitter blow. The news broke on Friday, ironically at exactly the same time I was sat around the table with government ministers at the summit on the steel crisis.
If David Cameron is serious about building a Northern Powerhouse then let him prove it by taking the action we need to protect steel jobs in Scunthorpe and across the whole region. These jobs need to be kept in Britain, not lost to the rest of Europe or China.
The dumping of cheap Chinese steel coupled with crippling energy prices means that times are tough for steel producers. The government has the tools they need to help, now they just need to find the political will. It’s vital that these specialist skills are retained if British manufacturing is to have a future.
Whether it’s automotive companies, the construction sector or the defence industry; the whole economy needs a successful steel industry. One thing is for sure, without steel, a Northern Powerhouse cannot be built.
1. Community is the largest and leading trade union in the steel industry and represents the majority of those workers affected by this announcement.
2. For more information, contact Callum Munro on 07821250904 or Matt Ball on 07799772250.