It is fantastic to see so many fellow steelworkers here today.
And it’s great to be here in Sheffield addressing this rally
A steel town with a steel history
A fitting place to bring our campaign to Save our Steel.
I’m a proud steelworker and I know from first-hand experience how important the steel industry is to workers, families and our steel communities.
I went into my local steelworks, in the West Midlands, straight from school – and that’s where my real education began. I learned the values of solidarity, of looking out for each other and of sticking together in hard times.
I understand our industry has changed a lot since that time – but the one thing that never has changed, and that never will change, are the people who work in it.
People like Geoff Waterfield an inspirational leader of our campaign to bring steelmaking back to Redcar in 2010.
Tragically, Geoff is no longer with us, but we will always owe him a debt of gratitude
People like Paul Warren. In recent months, he has led the workforce at SSI with great courage and dignity.
Let us never forget – what happened at SSI was an act of industrial vandalism. A government which lacked the political will to step up and take positive action – they chose to hide behind European rules instead of saving our Redcar steelworks.
Colleagues – I now want to speak directly to the steelworkers in the room.
Your passion, commitment, and skills remain strong as ever.
Over the years, you have given your all; you have met every challenge set before you.
You have increased productivity every year – the British steelworker is one of the most productive in the world.
Together we have stepped up and saved, we’ve been fit for the future, we been through Project Ark – all challenges within our control. But these challenges we face today are out of our hands.
We need help – but we are running out of time.
The industry is suffering now. The time for Government action is now.
We cannot give this government even the smallest excuse to divert focus from delivering the urgent and meaningful action the industry so badly needs right now.
We cannot allow our struggle for survival to be hijacked as a piece of political theatre. We must secure the rightful place of steelmaking at the absolute heart of an active industrial strategy.
So we need action – not just words – on energy costs, business rates, skills retention and most of all, action to ensure a level playing field
Let us compete fairly – stopping, as the USA has done – the dumping of cheap steel from the likes of China.
And that means holding the Government’s feet to the fire – the blast furnace. We cannot become distracted – we must remain together and focussed.
But it’s not just government that needs to act – we need our steel businesses to set out their commitment to the UK.
Take Tata for instance – supposedly one of the world’s most ethical companies with their values and their vision.
So how can it be at time when Tata Steel is on its knees and crying out for orders, how can it be that they only use 30% of British steel in the cars manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover?
I’ve got a message for Tata – if you want to make money on the backs of British workers and the prestige of Jaguar Land Rover – then build your cars with British steel.
And to the UK government – get the procurement right.
Build our railways with British steel.
Build our bridges with British steel.
Build our ships with British steel.
So – the fight goes on.
There is much to be done.
Our campaign continues.
Because this is our industry – if we don’t fight for it, then nobody else will.
This is a battle we can’t afford to lose.
Not just for our jobs – but for our communities, for our children and our children’s children.
Together, let’s leave here today with steel in our hearts and fire in our bellies.
Together, let’s Save Our Steel!