Nia Griffith MP had signed up to @CommunityUnion’s Stand up for Steel campaign. Speaking before the launch of the campaign on Wednesday in a debate called by Labour to urge the UK Government to do more for the steel industry, Nia Griffith MP said,
“I would like to pay tribute to all those in the steel industry, including the trade unions, who are working hard to modernise and do everything they can to ensure that we are as efficient and competitive as possible. Just as with energy security, we should not rely on imports, so with the products of the foundation industries like steel, we need an active industrial strategy from Government to give the industry the confidence to invest in the UK for the future, and we could do without all this shilly-shallying and nonsense about an EU referendum, which is putting companies like Tata steel in an impossible position where they may be tempted to invest in IJmuiden rather than Llanelli, to be sure of staying in the EU.
The recession has meant that low demand is one of the biggest problems facing the steel industry, and so the Government should be bringing forward all the infrastructure projects they have promised – instead of cancelling and delaying them. That would not only provide a market for the steel now, but would help to keep people in work and ensure that we have the skills for the future.
And it is vital that procurement for Government projects uses UK supply chains. You can do that by using community benefit clauses in the specification. That is what other EU countries do it to get around the EU competition rules and help their own industries, so we should push the boat out on the rules and be brave. We should explore the limits of what we can do and ensure that we bring home jobs for the UK. Using UK supply chains is vital first and formost to safeguard local jobs, and safeguard the future of our industry. Procuring in the UK is also environmentally better, because it means that we are not bringing products thousands of miles across the world, and we have higher environmental standards in production, which means we produce less carbon in our manufacturing than countries sending us cheap imports. We also need to the Government to step up the work of CARES, the certifying authority to clamp down on sub-standard rebar imports which are undercutting our steel, and pose a threat to safety in the construction work they are used in.
As we have said many times before the government should never have imposed the carbon floor price at such a high level, a UK-only tax on our industry, and now we badly need them to get the long-promised support package to the energy intensive industries. Government policy means we are punishing ourselves, unilaterally, when we belong to a perfectly good mechanism in the EU, and our Ministers should be in there, negotiating the next stage so that the steel industry is not disadvantaged, and there is a level playing field across Europe.