Campaign to save steel jobs extends to Brussels

UK steelworkers urged the business secretary Sajid Javid to take urgent action to save jobs.
UK steelworkers urged the business secretary Sajid Javid to take urgent action to save jobs.

UK steelworkers have called on the Business Secretary to take urgent action to save jobs in their crisis-hit industry.

Workers from the UK, Belgium and France demonstrated outside an emergency meeting of the EU council of ministers which was held in Brussels yesterday.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid and his European counterparts were being pressed to help stop the dumping of cheap Chinese steel.

It is one of the issues which has been blamed by companies which have announced thousands of job losses.

Unite national officer Harish Patel said: “Hiding behind the EU as an excuse to do nothing will not wash with the tens of thousands of workers whose livelihoods depend on steelmaking in the UK.

“The business secretary needs to secure urgent action from the meeting to tackle the dumping of cheap Chinese steel and high energy costs.

“Nothing should be off the table, including a refusal to grant China market economy status while it fails to abide by EU rules on fair trade.

“Sajid Javid also needs to use the opportunity to learn from his counterparts in countries such as Germany and Italy and follow their lead in developing an industrial strategy with steel at its heart.

“Anything less and the continued failure by ministers to urgently intervene to support UK steel will push the crisis hit industry into meltdown.”

A Business Department spokesman said: “The Secretary of State requested Monday’s meeting of the Competitiveness Council to put the difficulties felt by the steel industry both at home in the UK and across the continent high up on the European agenda.”

David Hulse, GMB national officer, said GMB was attending the rally in Brussels to “impress on the EU Council of Ministers the urgency of problems in the steel industry.”

He said steelworkers from the UK were joining with union members in other member states who were also facing the same problems.

Mr Hulse added: “We want action on energy prices and on dumping. There can be no more talking shops.”

He said the EU would lose all credibility if the meeting did not take action to stem the job losses.

The lobbying of the EU council comes as Hartlepool and the Tees Valley have been affected by cutbacks in the steel industry.

The Caparo forge in Hartlepool had 79 workers made redundant at the end of October, with a further 13 expected to follow soon.

Cutbacks have also been seen at Tata Steel nationally and at SSI in Redcar. where 2,200 jobs were lost.