Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the steelworkers’ union Community, will be representing thousands of steelworkers and contractors at the government’s steel summit in Rotherham tomorrow and arguing the case for more support for the industry.
The summit was called following a parliamentary debate on the steel industry in parliament last month and comes just a day after the end of coke production at the former SSI site in Redcar signalled the end of 170 years of iron and steelmaking on Teesside.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Roy Rickhuss said:
“The government scandalously missed opportunities to intervene and protect the industrial assets in Redcar, which has left a community devastated and taxpayers picking up a bill of hundreds of millions to clean the site. This must not be allowed to happen again and what has happened in Redcar should focus everyone’s minds.”
“Community will play a full and active role in the steel summit. For several years, we have been calling for a government-led steel strategy, which recognises the importance of this foundation industry to the wider UK economy. The current steel crisis is partly a result of such a strategy not existing. This summit will be a positive opportunity for steel businesses, trade unions and the government to come up with a sustainable plan for the future of the UK steel industry as a key part of any wider industrial strategy.
“The summit must not be a talking shop. There is a case for urgent, short-term action to help create a level-playing field for UK steel producers. Retaining vital steel making skills should be a priority. Other European countries offer support for short-time working to help retain or upskill steelworkers ready for when the market recovers. The government should explore how this can be done in the UK.
“Community will be a responsible partner in this process. However, the summit must offer more than warm words. Urgent, practical support is needed and I will be making that case at the summit on behalf of the UK’s steelworkers and their communities.”
MEDIA: For more information, contact the Matt Ball on 02074204022 / 07799772250 or Callum Munro on 02074204013 / 07821250904.