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Save our Steel at Labour conference

26th September 2016

Alan Coombs, Community’s lead rep at Tata Steel Port Talbot, addressed the Labour Party conference about the union’s Save our Steel campaign.

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Alan Coombs, a Community union delegate and a proud Port Talbot steelworker of 33 years.

Conference, when we met a year ago, we heard the devastating news that the Redcar steelworks was closing.

We stood here and we called on the government to intervene.

But they failed to act.

The light on that blast furnace went out.

Thousands lost their jobs

And a whole community was devastated.

It was nothing short of an act of industrial vandalism

Conference, this must never be allowed to happen again.

By now, no one is in doubt about the threat to Port Talbot – but conference, the steel industry is bigger than one site.

I am proud to be joined in the hall today by steelworkers from just some of the many steel towns across the UK – from Llanwern and Trostre, from Corby and Teesside, from Scunthorpe and Scotland.

This past year we have stood together and fought for our industry – and I ask that you pay tribute to them now.

Conferene, our fight is one we cannot afford to lose. Losing our steelworks in Port Talbot would destroy my community.

It’s not just the loss of jobs – it’s our identity and sense of purpose.

Steelworkers have been the guardians of our industry for generations.

Our campaign didn’t start with the threat to Redcar.

We’ve been calling for action for years.

On energy costs.

On procurement

And on steel dumping.

Conference I want to pay tribute to those who have been by our side throughout.

Especially our steel MPs.

Not trying to grab the headlines but doing the hard work in Westminster:

Asking questions.

Calling debates.

And holding government ministers to account.

Joining the steelworkers’ call to Save our Steel.

It’s not been easy getting this government to act.

But they have started to listen.

I only wish it could have happened sooner.

That’s the price of being Opposition.

It leaves you powerless to intervene.

It means we see things like the devastation of Redcar.

It means thousands of steelworkers losing their jobs.

It means our communities suffer, while the Tories wring their hands.

That’s why we all need to work together.

Work for an industrial strategy

Work to win the trust of voters and return Labour to power.

And work to Save our Steel.