We must work as one to save Cly­de­bridge

Rutherglen Reformer - - News from the Pews - Com­mons Com­ment

This week the new Scot­tish Steel Task Force that was an­nounced by First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon, and headed up by Busi­ness Min­is­ter Fer­gus Ewing, will meet for the first time.

The task force rep­re­sents a broad spec­trum of so­ci­ety, with Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, lo­cal author­i­ties, pub­lic sec­tor, trade unions and lo­cal politi­cians all on board.

There are peo­ple of var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions, and those of none.

I am de­lighted to be a mem­ber of the force, and work to­wards a pos­i­tive out­come.

It goes with­out say­ing, a lot of jobs are re­liant upon the suc­cess of the task force and it is cru­cial that we all work to­gether to make it a suc­cess.

Now is not the time for po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing, but for real com­bined ac­tion.

The pri­or­ity is find­ing a buyer who will con­tinue with com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion.

We sim­ply can­not al­low th­ese spe­cial­ist skills to dis­ap­pear from Scot­land. We re­ally must all work to­gether if we are to save this industry, and pre­vent hun­dreds of job losses in the run up to Christ­mas.

The prob­lems fac­ing the steel industry in Scot­land are the same as those else­where in the UK.

One is­sue that I hope will be ad­dressed by the task force is that of pro­cure­ment, and ex­plore if more can be done to pro­cure steel for pub­lic projects from Scot­land and the rest of the UK.

It would be disin­gen­u­ous of me to present this as the so­lu­tion to the industry’s prob­lems though.

Whilst form­ing part of the so­lu­tion, pro­cure­ment is a small piece of a larger puz­zle, and there are much big­ger is­sues to ad­dress if the industry is to re­main vi­able in the long term.

The two big­gest prob­lems fac­ing Bri­tish steel are high en­ergy costs, and the dump­ing of cheap Chi­nese steel on the Euro­pean mar­ket.

Un­less th­ese mat­ter are ad­dressed, the industry looks un­likely to have a fu­ture, re­gard­less of how many pub­lic con­tracts are awarded.

The UK Gov­ern­ment’s re­ac­tion to both of th­ese is­sues has re­gret­tably been se­verely in­ad­e­quate to date.

The steel industry has re­peat­edly warned that it is be­ing crip­pled, and has been plead­ing for help.

As a mem­ber of the All Party Par­lia­men­tary Group on Steel, I’ve wit­nessed first-hand how the slow re­ac­tion of the UK Gov­ern­ment has led us to where we are now, and how the many warn­ings from industry ex­perts have not been heeded.

I hope to see the UK Gov­ern­ment step up to the mark, and take ac­tion now to bring for­ward help for all those in­dus­tries with high en­ergy costs.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment also need to be rep­re­sented at EU talks to ad­dress the prob­lem of dump­ing, and I will be push­ing David Cameron to ask for that to hap­pen.

Sav­ing Scot­tish steel will not be easy, but we must now rise to the chal­lenge and ex­plore ev­ery pos­si­ble op­tion so that we can reach our shared aim.

We must not give up on the steel industry and the highly skilled work­ers in their hour of need.

All quiet Cly­de­bridge is set to close

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.