‘I DO not believe that nationalisation is the right answer,’ Tory PM Cameron said yesterday, putting two fingers up to the 15,000 steel workers that face losing their jobs, as the UK’s biggest steel works in Port Talbot, Wales, is threatened with closure.
Cameron claimed that he was ‘concerned’ that Port Talbot could be closed outright and admitted, ‘This is a difficult situation and there is no guarantee of success.’ Cameron went on to claim: ‘We are doing everything we can,’ before promptly flying off to the US for a Nuclear Security summit. Over 100,000 have signed a petition demanding that parliament is re-called to discuss urgent action to save the plant.
Dave Hulse, national officer for GMB responsible for Tata steel, said: ‘David Cameron and all his MPs should be ashamed of themselves. To come back and take nationalisation off the table is an absolute joke. It just tells you that they are treating the whole of the steel industry with contempt.
‘We are for nationalising the industry short to medium term. If we don’t get immediate assistance then we won’t be able to protect our assets and we won’t have a manufacturing base in the industry. We need support and assistance in this struggle from the TUC.’
Responding to Cameron’s statement, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Warm words won’t secure a future for the British steel industry. It’s time for the government to put its money where its mouth is. We need urgent and comprehensive government action, not the confused response we’ve seen so far.’
General Secretary of the steelworkers’ union Community, Roy Rickhuss, said: ‘I have just returned from Mumbai where I have been with steelworkers meeting Tata to hear an underwhelming statement from the Prime Minister.
‘I am disappointed that the government still has no plan for the industry but instead seems to be adding to the confusion and mixed messages that have been the state of play for the last 36 hours.
‘The Prime Minister had the gall to state that his intervention with Tata was responsible for securing a “sales process” but the sad truth is that BIS ministers didn’t take the opportunity to join us in Mumbai and the government was nowhere to be seen.
‘Now thousands of steelworkers are faced with an uncertain future as their workplaces are put up for sale. This is not the third day of a steel crisis; we have been dealing with the consequences of the current global steel market for months if not years. It is astonishing that the government was so unprepared for Tata’s announcement.
‘Despite the Prime Minister desperately trying to get a grip of the situation, his government’s mixed messages continue – saying they will do all they can but still being unclear on the potential positive government intervention which may be essential to securing a future for steelmaking in the UK.
‘I would like to see evidence of the Prime Minister’s claims that they have increased procurement of British steel or tackled Chinese dumping of steel in Europe, as it’s not what I hear from steel producers. The UK is one of the member states opposing the end of the lesser duty rule in Europe, which currently prevents higher tariffs being imposed.
‘Community is focussed on supporting our members and looking for practical ways forward to secure a future for steelmaking in the UK. That’s why I am currently organising to bring all union reps from across the UK together for a mass meeting at TUC Congress House on Monday.
‘This is not just about Port Talbot; it is about the entire UK steel industry. As the government seems to be divided and unable to lead for the country I would be happy to sit down with the Prime Minister if he answers my call for an urgent meeting with unions and help set his government back on the right path.’