UK steel industry: GMB General Secretary Tim Roache calls for government action to save jobs

UK steel industry: GMB's Tim Roache calls for government action to save jobs

The Tata Steel factory in Port Talbot

Friday, April 1, 2016

With Wednesday's announcement that Tata Steel plans to sell its UK business, thousands of jobs are now at risk in an industry that has already seen major cuts. 

To understand what needs to be done , Julia Hartley-Brewer spoke to Tim Roache, the General Secretary of the GMB trade union. 

On solving the current crisis: "First of all, it can't be right that this government allows the dumping of cheap Chinese steel that isn't only cheap but absolutely inferior in quality. And there's no joined up agenda from this government at all. If we're serious about building our own railways, our own bridges, our own defence equipment, then surely it makes sense to prop up our own steel industry by using British steel. Let's ensure that British steel is used on all of our procurement contracts."

On what will happen if the UK continues to buy cheap steel: "The alternative is we buy the cheapest that is inferior quality and will therefore need replacing in a couple of years, rather than last a lifetime. The fallout of that is that 4,000 workers directly affected now in Port Talbot, then 40,000 in the supply industries, all of those people go on the dole. The welfare benefits go up, crime increases, we have to invest in a new structure there, we have to invest in re-innovation. It's about time the government started to look at the impact on individuals, on workers, on families, and on communities. 

On what the different options are: "We can't be rushed into a decision, and that's why the GMB's view is that this government needs to step in and take a stake in Tata Steel. They need to put their money where their mouth is in terms of supporting British workers. First of all, stop the dumping of cheap steel. Secondly, we need to exempt steel firms from planting machinery and high business rates. Thirdly, let's insist as a government that British companies buy British steel."