UK Steel­work­ers Ask for Govt Sup­port

The Economic Times - - Economy -

Our bureau

Kolkata: A meet­ing of steel­work­ers across UK in Lon­don on Mon­day has made three new de­mands of gov­ern­ment to se­cure UK steel in­dus­try. One hun­dred steel­work­ers from across the UK gath­ered at the Trade Union Congress House to de­cide on a plan fol­low­ing Tata Steel’s de­ci­sion to di­vest its UK as­sets last week. The de­mands in­clude an ap­peal to the gov­ern­ment to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to guar­an­tee the pro­duc­tion of Tata's UK steel op­er­a­tions to en­sure the cus­tomer base is re­tained even af­ter Tata Steel’s an­nounce­ment. The meet­ing also agreed that al­low­ing Tata or any other in­vestors to cherry-pick as­sets will put the UK steel in­dus­try at risk.

A state­ment is­sued by the unions said the plants are vi­able but they re­quire in­vest­ment. "This means the busi­ness needs the in­vest­ment orig­i­nally planned by Tata – un­der­stood to be £1.5bil­lion over 10 years. This level of in­vest­ment should be achiev­able gi- ven that any buyer would be gain­ing con­trol of as­sets worth £4 bil­lion. But the gov­ern­ment sup­port is needed dur­ing the 2-3 years it will take to get back to self-sus­tain­abil­ity." The unions sug­gested the gov­ern­ment sup­port in 'green in­vest­ment' – in a new power plant, the coke ovens and the blast fur­nace to make Port Tal­bot a world-class ex­am­ple of low-car­bon, blast fur­nace steel mak­ing. R&D in­vest­ment – to en­able the busi­ness to de­velop high value prod­ucts that can se­cure new mar- kets and sus­tain the busi­ness. An­other area in which it sought gov­ern­ment sup­port was in skills in­vest­ment – to sup­port a tran­si­tion to high-value, low car­bon steel pro­duc­tion.

The steel unions have en­gaged ex­pert steel in­dus­try ad­vi­sors Syn­dex UK to help with fu­ture plans.

Roy Rick­huss, general sec­re­tary of com­mu­nity, said: "There needs to be a step-change in the level of govt in­volve­ment with Tata, its cus­tomers and the unions and this is why we have set out our three de­mands."

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