On 2 March 2016, Business Secretary Sajid Javid brought together representatives from industry, the unions, government and ministers from the devolved administrations for the first meeting of the Steel Council. Ref Gov.uk, Business Secretary and Chair of UK Steel hold first meeting of new joint Steel Council.
The meeting came amid concerns about steel ‘dumping’ by China and following the loss of 1,200 jobs at Tata in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire, 2,200 from the SSI Redcar steelworks and a further 700 from Port Talbot.
The Steel Council intends to map the sector’s long-term future. It will build on the progress of ministerial working groups which focused on the immediate issues faced by the industry, such as energy costs, government procurement and EU emissions regulations.
The government accepts there are a number of global challenges putting pressure on the sector, and that there is an urgent need to create a level playing field.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said, “The crisis facing the British steel industry and workers is grave indeed. But people should be in no doubt that this government has done, and will continue to do, everything that is possible to secure the future of British steel making and protect Britain’s wider economy. That includes working more closely than ever with the industry in the new joint Steel Council.”
Co-chair Jon Bolton of UK Steel said, “It is a welcome step that the government is continuing to respond to the needs of the UK steel sector and has acted on calls for a longer term, business-focused Steel Council. The business leaders on the council represent many of the UK’s producers and will be well placed to determine what steps are needed to develop and support a steel sector enabling it to meet the future UK industrial and infrastructure demands."
However, Dave Hulse, GMB national officer, said, "We are looking for real progress being made with the formulation of this new group. Since the steel summit in October 2015 things have been moving at a very slow pace. We have gone from crisis to crisis and really need to see action now, otherwise GMB fears for the long-term future of the steel industry."
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