Today, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of steelworkers’ union Community, gave evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee. This was part of the committee’s hearing on the steel crisis, of which the latest victim was over 1000 jobs at Tata Steel, almost all in South Wales.
Speaking as the only trade unionist invited to give evidence; Roy Rickhuss told the committee that the government’s talk of supporting steelworkers was undermined by their refusal to back stronger EU action against Chinese dumping. As recently as this morning, the business secretary Sajid Javid refused to back other EU members in taking the sort of action that would help stop the flood of cheap Chinese steel.
Speaking after the committee hearing, Roy Rickhuss said: “The Welsh Affairs Committee was right to hold today’s hearing to bring further attention to the steel crisis crippling our industry and communities. Wales has a proud steel heritage, but its future is at real risk.
“In our evidence to the committee, we have stressed the need for immediate government support both at home and in Europe. The government must provide an industrial strategy that secures the long term future of our steel industry. Tens of thousands of jobs in Wales and across the UK rely on steel and retaining steelmaking capacity is vital to our entire manufacturing base.
“We welcome Anna Soubry’s comments at the committee about the importance of maintaining steelmaking capacity and protecting the blast furnaces at Port Talbot and Scunthorpe. We need steel companies to set out clearly their long term commitment to the UK.
“There is a lot of work required from government and businesses, but a sensible first step would be for the UK Government to stop blocking tougher EU sanctions against Chinese dumping. Steelworkers only want a fighting chance; they need their government to give it to them.”