As delivered by Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of Community, to TUC Congress in Brighton.
“Congress, Britain needs its steel industry.
Our country is built from it; the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, the hospitals that heal us and the schools our children learn in.
Steel is not just important, it is an essential and strategic foundational industry for the UK’s economy.
And steel jobs are good jobs, with high wages in the very communities which need those good jobs the most.
But our industry is facing a critical juncture.
In the absence of government backing we are careering towards the end of Britain’s proud history of steelmaking.
Government ultimately needs to decide whether it wants a steel industry in the UK or not. Because immediate investment is needed from them to green our industry and support it to decarbonise.
The loss of primary steel would not be a green steel plan. The UK will always need its steel, and specifically primary steel for automotive and packaging steels.
Importing carbon intensive steel in place of low-carbon UK steel will not reduce overall emissions, it will simply offshore them to countries who don’t play by the same rules.
That is not a green steel plan or solution.
We stand ready to do everything we possibly can to support the industry to decarbonise. Employers stand ready to pay their share. Steelworkers stand ready to adapt and learn new skills.
But Government must step up. Their continued lack of support is killing our industry. And time is running out.
If they don’t sort themselves out and urgently deliver for our industry, it will be our members’ jobs on the line, their families, their livelihoods and their communities impacted.
It is unthinkable and it would be unforgivable.
Congress a just transition must be more than just words on a piece of paper. It needs to urgently become a reality.
We must support workers into good green and unionised jobs as they transition from carbon-intensive to carbon neutral.
We’ve all seen the tragic consequences when people in Whitehall just don’t understand what industries means to us.
The spirit and strength of our steel communities, and of our steelworkers is second to none. We are alive and we are fighting for our future.
Congress, I urge you to please join us as we fight. Please support this motion.
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