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Why Britain needs our steel

Roy Rickhuss
Roy Rickhuss
9th July 2020

Britain is made from steel. Whether we are travelling by car, train or plane, it is the steels we produce that make it possible. The roads we drive, the bridges we cross, the hospitals that heal us and the schools our children learn in, are all built on foundations of steel. Iconic structures like the Millennium Stadium, the Thames Barrier and the Kelpies – all made from Britain’s steel. Whether we realise it or not we are looking at steel every hour of every day, it is essential to our economy and our way of life.

Britain’s steel industry may be smaller than it was but it’s as important now as it’s ever been. More important even, because rebuilding our economy and delivering the government’s infrastructure programme is going to require millions of tonnes of steel. Steels we are primed to provide, the best steels in the world. Our recovery will be driven by building and making and our steel industry will provide the foundation. Whether it’s investment in HS2, green transport, food production or schools and hospitals, it is going to require a secure supply of domestic steel.

Our steelworkers are proud of our industry and the contribution we make. We have continued to produce throughout the crisis, making vital materials for the NHS and our food industry, and we are ready to play our part in the post-pandemic recovery.

As the country moves forward and charts a new course in the world, our steel industry will be vital to our future. As a strategic foundation industry that is the base of the supply chain for vital sectors of the economy like automotive, aerospace, construction and defence, we must protect and invest in it. The pandemic has highlighted the dangers of relying on fragile international supply chains and it is imperative we retain and develop our sovereign steelmaking capacities. Our steel industry is fundamental to Britain’s economic independence and our national security, we must never take it for granted.

The leading economies in the world – America, China, Japan, Germany and India – all recognise a strong steel industry is necessary for their economic success. If Global Britain is to compete on the world stage over the years ahead, then we must do likewise. But this will not happen by itself, and that is why we are campaigning to promote understanding of why we need our steel industry and what must be done to safeguard its future.

The pandemic has created huge challenges for steel, just as it has for other industries. We need action to stimulate steel demand, action to ensure our infrastructure projects are built with our steel, action to create the level playing field we need to compete, and action to develop a long-term industrial strategy with steel at its core. Political will is required but it’s not all about government; employers must play their part and live up to their social and economic obligations.

The economic contribution of our steel industry is enormous – more than £5bn a year when you take into account supply chains and local communities. The social contribution is overwhelming –tens of thousands of high quality jobs which drive local economies and give opportunity to young people in areas of the country that desperately need them. The environmental contribution is clear – the industry is committed to net zero and a tonne of Chinese steel has fifty times the carbon cost of one sourced from this country.

For all these reasons and more, Britain needs a strong and sustainable steel industry. From electric cars to wind turbines, from pots and pans to baked bean cans – we can make it and long may that continue. Our industry and our steel heritage is a great source of pride and the future is there to be taken. On behalf of Community, Unite and GMB, and the many thousands of steelworkers we represent, I hope you will back our campaign to support a great British industry.

Britain, we need our steel.

Please sign the petition to show your support.