Steel's challenges to be underlined at major national conference

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 8 Feb 2018

STEELWORKERS gather for a major conference today, calling for Government action to safeguard the future of the industry.

Community, the steelworkers' union, is bringing workers, employers, politicians, and industry experts together, in the shadow of the Redcar SSI works, closed in 2015.

Ahead of his address (on Thursday, February 8), Roy Rickhuss, Community's General Secretary, said: "Our ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign has shown us the very best of our union and our members. We made the whole country sit up and take notice of an industry that it didn’t know it needed; an industry absolutely crucial to our manufacturing, energy, and defence sectors. An industry with so much potential, but not given a fair chance to succeed.

"The steel crisis may have left the headlines, but there are big challenges ahead. Challenges that all of us; steelworkers, employers, and politicians, must face together.

"Half of all the steel produced in the UK is exported and 70 per cent of this goes to the EU. The post-Brexit trade relationship with Europe and the Customs Bill currently going through parliament could have huge consequences for our industry. We simply cannot afford for government to get these wrong.

Read more: Meet and greet scheme for lorry drivers at British Steel in Scunthorpe is hailed a success

"On energy, UK steel producers are still paying over 50 per cent more for their electricity than companies in France and Germany. If post-Brexit Britain is to be a nation of makers and innovators, then we simply cannot operate at such a long-term disadvantage. 

"The ‘steel sector deal’ set out an ambitious plan to tackle some of these problems, unlock new investment and safeguard thousands of jobs. 

"I am pleased to work closely and constructively with the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, and the successful conclusion of a steel sector deal should be the utmost priority for all of us.

"When some said that steelmaking was a thing of the past, we refused to accept that. We won that argument, but the struggle is far from over. 

"Together, I believe we can get the job done – and together, we can deliver the industry our parents and grandparents built, as a modern, growing, prosperous inheritance for our children and grandchildren."

Richard Harrington MP, the UK Government business minister responsible for the steel industry, will deliver a keynote speech to the conference, after which Mr Rickhuss will respond. Senior executives from British Steel, Tata Steel, Liberty Steel, and Celsa Steel, will also address conference.

Read more: Today's main headlines from Humberbusiness.com 



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