Unite Union’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey
The UK’s top trade union leader Len McCluskey on a visit to British Steel, Scunthorpe, today (March 21) called on the government to adopt the slogan “if it’s built for Britain, it should be made by Britain”.
Mr McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, the second largest union on the steelworks, was pressing the case for UK steel to be used in major infrastructure projects such as HS2.
The Unite boss warned the government that it risked betraying steelworkers and their industry, if it failed to make such a guarantee.
He said the government’s decision to make steel a “low priority” as part of its industrial strategy was an insult to steelworkers who had battled to save their industry.
Mr McCluskey urged government ministers to instruct, rather than issue guidance.
After meeting with rank and file members in Scunthorpe Mr McCluskey met with British Steel executives for an update on progress after the company’s change of ownership last year.
He said: “British Steel workers and their former colleagues at Tata Steel UK have fought tooth and nail to ensure steel has a future in the UK. They and their families have made great sacrifices in doing so, because they recognise the importance of steel as a key foundation industry and a source for decent jobs on which their communities rely on.
“The government’s classification of steel as a low priority in its industrial strategy displays a degree of complacency about the UK’s steel industry, with many steelworkers viewing it as an insult.
“Steel is a key foundation industry and crucial to renewal of the nation’s infrastructure. The UK government must make it a priority in its industrial strategy and guarantee that UK steel is used in rail projects, such as HS2, as well as other infrastructure and defence projects.
“Ministers as part of public procurement need to instruct that UK steel is used, rather than relying on the present guidance, to ensure that UK industry and the UK economy benefits from major infrastructure investment.”