#SaveOurSteel: Community union calls for UK Government to follow Scottish example

30/03/2016
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More than 6000 steel jobs hang in the balance in Wales

THE UNION representing steel workers across the UK has called on the UK Government to consider methods used to save Scottish steel plants in North Lanarkshire to save 4000 jobs at Port Talbot.

The call from the Community union comes as it was announced that Tata steel, which mothballed plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang in October, plans to sell all or most of it UK operations, including the 4,000 strong steel smelting plant in the Welsh town and plants across the UK employing as many as 2,000 more workers.

The Scottish Government purchased the two smaller Scottish plants , which employed 270 workers, before selling it on to a buyer, Liberty Steel, in a move that would avoid a lengthy due diligence procedure between Liberty and Tata.

A Community spokesperson told CommonSpace it was the union’s understanding that the UK Government had not ruled out temporary nationalisation.

He said: “From what we’ve heard from them so far they are looking at every option and one of them would be some sort of temporary nationalisation, which would be the same as what has happened in Scotland in terms of a gap between Tata steel owning the Scottish plants and Liberty steel taking them on.”

“One option would be some sort of temporary nationalisation, which would be the same as what has happened in Scotland. It shows what’s possible.” Community spokesperson

The so called ‘back-to-back’ deal in Scotland has been praised for potentially saving many of the skilled jobs and maintaining strategic heavy manufacturing. Liberty will not immediately re-employ all 270 workers, but have pledged to invest in the industry and re-build the workforce over time.

The spokesperson said: “It shows what’s possible. Of course the deal in Scotland isn’t quite done yet. So it still has to be proven in terms of it coming through to a final sale to Liberty.”

“We don’t want any options to be ruled out that might bring about a sale. Our focus at the moment is just trying to get down to the detail of what can actually be done, and primarily putting pressure on Tata to allow time.

“Our fear yesterday was that Tata would announce a closure so from that point of view our worst fear has not been realised.

“We believe with the right government action and responsible action from Tata there can be a future for Port Talbot and the rest of the UK steel businesses.”

Liberty said they were acquiring the Scottish capacity in order to rebuild the UK’s ailing steel industry. Those plans could be significantly disrupted if Port Talbort is not kept open.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to recall parliament to hold a debate on the crisis facing the UK’s steel industry.

UK Business minister Anna Soubry, has said that the government is considering “all option” in relation to port-Talbot and other Tata holdings in the UK after a meeting of the corporation in India opted for the sale after months of dire performance for the European steel industry. Steel is struggling to compete due to overproduction in China and soaring energy costs.

CommonSpace contacted the UK Government to reply to the Community comments, but they did not reply by time of publication.

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Picture courtesy of bloodymonday