Cameron’s empty support for steel

Last week, David Cameron finally woke up to the crisis that has hit UK Steel since January this year. But Michael Leahy, General Secretary of Community, the steel union, asks what the support will mean.

Last week, David Cameron finally woke up to the crisis that has hit UK Steel since January this year. In the Scunthorpe Telegraph he said:

“Corus is a great British company employing many thousands of people in our country. We want a strong British steel industry, it should be at the heart of our economy and as we look for recovery in the economy and recovery in things like construction, housing, commercial property, the car industry, clearly steel making is a very important part of the whole process.”

He went on to say that any form of government subsidy or protection for the industry is not “the right answer”.

This led Michael Leahy, General Secretary of Community, the steel union, to write an open letter about his remarks. Mr Leahy’s letter says:

“While your warm words are welcome, the workforce in the Steel Industry and all steel sector stakeholders will wonder what your support will mean…

If you won’t support the action the government has taken that has helped to keep jobs and you won’t provide the support that government won’t give, what are you proposing to keep Steel at the heart of the economy?

The open letter shows that since David Cameron became Leader of the Opposition, the Conservative party have:

  • opposed the government’s Car Scrappage Scheme which has increased demand for more than 300,000 new car and van sales and “therefore steel.”
  • opposed the continued investment in schools, hospitals and government capital spend announced in the Pre-Budget Report which has “retained a demand for steel”;
  • pledged to “dismantle” the Train to Gain programme which would “deprive Corus of the £2 million provided in their time of need”; and
  • pledged to abolish the Regional Development Agencies which have “provided an additional £3 million to Corus to help them through the recession.”
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