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Unions recommit support for Save our Steel campaign

12th September 2018

The 150th TUC Congress has shown its support again for Community’s Save our Steel campaign. Paul McBean, Community National Executive Council member and lead rep at British Steel in Scunthorpe, spoke about the union’s campaign. TUC President, Sally Hunt, had paid tribute to Community’s campaign in her President’s Address at the start of the Congress in Manchester.

Paul McBean’s speech follows. [Check against delivery]

“Conference, as you know, my union, Community, represents thousands of steelworkers across the UK.  I stand before you as one of them. A steelworker from British Steel in Scunthorpe.

“Two years ago, steelworkers from across the UK, stood in front of you in Brighton.  You heard about the industrial catastrophe that had unfolded on Teesside a year earlier and about the closure of the Redcar steelworks that could have been prevented.  And the failure of that Tory government to support the steel industry with their shameful decision to stand by as more than a century of steelmaking on Teesside came to an end.

“When the steel industry was in trouble, our members, steelworkers from across the UK, came together – all lifting up their voices to shout Save our Steel. We marched in Scunthorpe, in Newport, Sheffield, Corby, Port Talbot and on Teesside.

“Marching as steelworkers, as steel unions and steel communities.  Our Save Our Steel campaign has made a difference – we’ve secured jobs and helped sustain whole communities.

“I want to thank you for your support, and thank you President, for the tribute you paid to our campaign in your speech.

“We are proud of what we have achieved in recent years, but we know the job is not yet done, which is why we called for your ongoing support last year, and why we are doing so again today.

“Challenges remain and our struggle is far from over.  Three years on and the same mistakes are being made by this government. They still refuse to support our industry, to ensure we have a chance to succeed. This government won’t use British Steel to build the ships our taxes pay for. They won’t stand up to Trump and his damaging tariffs that put the future of our industry at risk. And as our trading relationships changes, they’re dragging their feet over trade defence when steel dumping remains a significant threat.

“Time and time again the Westminster government have not done enough – and today is no different. If they don’t step up, steel communities like mine will be in trouble again.  Industries like steel compete in a global market, and given a fair chance I back our workforce against any in the world. But we are forced to compete on a playing field that is not level, against countries like China that don’t play by the rules.

Other countries – like Germany – find ways to support their industries. Through energy policy, the tax system and procurement.

“We must follow their lead if we want to have a steel sector in 20 years’ time. The future of our steelworks, our jobs, our communities will only be safe when there’s a joined-up industrial strategy.

“I have had enough of warm words and platitudes. I want action.  As steelworkers, we will not be silent until this government gives us the Steel Sector Deal we have needed for so long.  We will not rest until our industry is competing on a level playing field. We will not give up on our industry, we will keep on fighting.  I am here today asking for your help in that fight.

“For steelworkers.  For steel communities.  For the future of our steel industry.  Please support this motion.  Thank you.”