UK steel union calls for 'urgent' action to save jobs

GMT 12:56 2015 Friday ,16 October

Arab Today, arab today UK steel union calls for 'urgent' action to save jobs

Thai steelmaker SSI said in September it would cut 1,700 jobs and suspend production at its Redcar plant in northeast England
London - AFP

Unions have called on the government to take "urgent" action to save jobs in the British steel industry ahead of a crisis summit on Friday called following the closure of a major plant in northeast England.

The meeting follows last month's announcement by Thai steelmaker Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) that it would cut 1,700 jobs and suspend production at its Redcar plant on Teesside.

SSI blamed the decision on plunging steel prices on world markets.

The summit in Rotherham, northern England, will be attended by ministers, business leaders and several major unions including steelworkers' union Community and Unite.

"The summit must not be a talking shop," said Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community.

"There is a case for urgent, short-term action to help create a level playing field for UK steel producers.

"The government scandalously missed opportunities to intervene and protect the industrial assets in Redcar, which has left a community devastated and taxpayers picking up a bill of hundreds of millions to clean the site," he added.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the steel industry was at "crisis point".

"The clock is ticking. It's time for the government to stop washing its hands of the industry and intervene to support steel."

Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who will be chairing the summit, said "this is a hugely difficult time for the steel industry across the world -- one of the toughest times ever.

"There is no magic bullet and we can't change the price of steel, but we can forensically work through all of the challenges we know the industry is facing to see what solutions there might be."

SSI bought the Redcar plant near the industrial town of Middlesbrough in 2011 from Indian-owned firm Corus for about $470 million (£304 million at current exchange rates).

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