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Issue #1727      April 20, 2016

Tories refuse to save British steel

Prime Minister David Cameron refused to reconvene Parliament last week after Tata Steel announced it would sell its British business leaving 15,000 jobs and British steelmaking at risk. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had demanded the recall as steel unions clamoured for re-nationalisation of the stricken industry.

India-based Tata rejected union pleas for investment to secure steel’s future in Britain. But Business Secretary Sajid Javid U-turned on his pledge to “look at all viable options” for the “absolutely vital” business.

“If you look around Europe and elsewhere, I think nationalisation is rarely the answer, particularly if you take into account the big challenges the industry faces,” he said.

Union delegations to Tata’s offices in Mumbai were told that the industry would be sold off piecemeal. Mr Corbyn accused the government of being “in disarray” over the crisis and said taxpayers’ cash should be invested to save British steel.

“If necessary, ministers must be prepared to use their powers to take a public stake in steelmaking to protect the industry and British manufacturing,” he said.

“The government must do whatever it takes to save this strategic industry.”

The trade union movement echoed the calls for immediate government intervention and investment to end the “industrial crisis.”

“Decisions taken in the days to come will determine not just the futures of 19,000 workers and their families, across 14 sites, but the very success of this government’s own economic programme,” said steel union Unite leader Len McCluskey.

“This is the time for the government to say categorically ... that these assets will be taken into safekeeping by the nation, because without them our economy will not flourish.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government should directly intervene to save the UK steel industry and Parliament should be recalled in order to debate how best to secure the future of this vital industry.”

Steelworkers’ union Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said that the Welsh and UK governments had a “crucial role” to play to save the industry.

The Tory government has so far left steelmaking at the mercy of market forces, recession and the alleged “dumping” on world markets of unfairly priced steel from China.

Union-backed charity War on Want said that rather than seeking ways to help the steel industry, the Tory government was pursuing a policy that will wreck it – supporting the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which would prevent European governments from defending home industries.

Mr Corbyn, demanding the recall of Parliament, said: “MPs must have the chance now to debate the future of steel and hold ministers to account for their failure to intervene.”

But a No 10 spokesman said there would be no recall, and that it would “continue to hold briefings,” and “focus on finding a long-term sustainable future for steelmaking.”

Morning Star

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