Labour leader pledges support for steel during Port Talbot visit

Labour leader Keir Starmer MP met with Community steel members and representatives in Port Talbot today to listen to their concerns and set out Labour’s plans to invest in the steel industry.

During the meeting, which was also attended by First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford MS and Community’s General Secretary Roy Rickhuss, Keir Starmer outlined Labour’s commitment to make the UK a world leader in green steel. This would be secured with a long-term programme of investment in clean steel technologies over ten years, delivered through a new National Wealth Fund.

Labour’s core pledges to the steel industry and its’ workers are:

  • Labour will invest alongside industry and the workforce in all available clean steel technologies to ensure UK steel can provide growth and economic security for decades;
  • Labour’s plans to Get Britain Building could fill the order books of Britain’s steel industry for decades to come;
  • Labour will speed up planning of critical infrastructure like rail and invest to build battery gigafactories, ports and renewable energy.

At the meeting, Community representatives also shared their concerns regarding the recent Tata-UK Government bad deal on the future of the site, with a proposal to shift production towards an electric arc furnace (EAF) model at the potential expense of 3000 jobs. Community has highlighted that the deal which has been struck is short-sighted, and is calling for a long, robust consultation on the plan with a chance to put forward alternative proposals to enable the works to decarbonise.

Speaking during the visit, Keir Starmer said:

“Visiting Port Talbot this morning, it’s clear how integral the steel industry is to the social fabric of communities here. It’s been that way for generations and will remain so long into the future. I’ve had productive discussions with Community and others about the bright future for steel with the right strategic partnership and investment in the new green technologies. I thank Roy and his team for the work they are doing to support steelworkers across the UK is vitally important, and I know they will fight tooth and nail for the industry.

“With my leadership, Labour will work in partnership with trade unions and business alike to ensure the UK’s steel industry is backed, not abandoned. We’ll invest in the communities that are at the heart of the future by investing £3bn over a decade to greening steel across the UK, from Port Talbot, to Rutherglen, to Scunthorpe. We’ll give UK steel its future back.”

Community Union General Secretary Roy Rickhuss said:

“It’s great that Keir has come to Port Talbot today to show his support for our members and to reaffirm Labour’s commitment to our steel industry. Labour’s plan for an ambitious decarbonisation strategy for the sector – and a just transition to green steel for the workforce – has Community’s full support. It is clear that Labour is on the side of steelworkers, and we need a Keir Starmer-led Labour government that will deliver the investment needed for our industry to thrive.

“After three years of discussions, the deal that Tata and the UK Government have cooked up – with no input from the unions – is a botched plan for decarbonisation on the cheap. It is essential that there is now a constructive pause, and a long, robust consultation which allows our experts at Syndex time to put forward an alternative decarbonisation plan for Port Talbot; one which protects jobs, our economy and our environment.

“Unions should have been involved in talks from the very beginning of this process. Given that we weren’t included, our members at Port Talbot shouldn’t now be expected to be rushed headlong into a bad deal. We are clear that we will do everything in our power to support our members, and all options should be on the table.”

You can read Roy Rickhuss’ new article on the UK Government-Tata deal and Labour’s backing for the steel industry in the Daily Mirror here.

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Community is the trade union for steelworkers, providing a first class service to those working in blue and white collar roles across steelworks, foundries and manufacturing. More steelworkers are members of Community than any other union. We have a history dating back over a century, representing members and campaigning to protect Britain’s steel industry. We are a modern trade union, campaigning for a better working world.

Together with our members, we are fighting for a better future for our steel industry, workers and communities and want you to join us.

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