Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement this morning regarding the steel crisis, the General Secretary of the steelworkers’ union Community, Roy Rickhuss, said,
“I have just returned from Mumbai where I have been with steelworkers meeting Tata to hear an underwhelming statement from the Prime Minister. I am disappointed that the government still has no plan for the industry but instead seems to be adding to the confusion and mixed messages that have been the state of play for the last 36 hours.
“The Prime Minister had the gall to state that his intervention with Tata was responsible for securing a ‘sales process’ but the sad truth is that BIS ministers didn’t take the opportunity to join us in Mumbai and the government was nowhere to be seen.
“Now thousands of steelworkers are faced with an uncertain future as their workplaces are put up for sale. This is not the third day of a steel crisis; we have been dealing with the consequences of the current global steel market for months if not years. It is astonishing that the government was so unprepared for Tata’s announcement.
“Despite the Prime Minister desperately trying to get a grip of the situation, his government’s mixed messages continue – saying they will do all they can but still being unclear on the potential positive government intervention which may be essential to securing a future for steel making in the UK.
“I would like to see evidence of the Prime Minister’s claims that they have increased procurement of British steel or tackled Chinese dumping of steel in Europe as it’s not what I hear from steel producers. The UK is one of the member states opposing the end of the lesser duty rule in Europe, which currently prevents higher tariffs being imposed.
“Community is focussed on supporting our members and looking for practical ways forward to secure a future for steelmaking in the UK. That’s why I am currently organising to bring all union reps from across the UK together for a mass meeting at TUC Congress House on Monday. This is not just about Port Talbot; it is about the entire UK steel industry.
“As the government seems to be divided and unable to lead for the country I would be happy to sit down with the Prime Minister if he answers my call for an urgent meeting with unions and help set his government back on the right path.”