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Unions condemn EU after steel industry crisis meeting

Unions have expressed huge disappointment at the outcome of a meeting of EU ministers to discuss the crisis gripping the steel industry.

Thousands of job losses have been announced in recent weeks by steel firms in the UK, with companies blaming high energy costs and business rates as well as cheap Chinese imports.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid attended a meeting in Brussels aimed at helping the industry.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said: "Council ministers and the (European) Commission have clearly failed to grasp the urgency of the current situation faced by the steel industry.

"Steelworkers whose jobs are at risk and who are seeing the impact of the dumping of cheap steel will take very little comfort from the conclusions of today's meeting.

"We need action now and would have at least expected a clear statement of intent from the meeting that they will speed up reform of trade defence instruments or introduce other measures so that European steel producers are better protected from dumping.

"The promise of yet another meeting of steel stakeholders only delays the action the industry requires.

"The summit also failed to give a proper view on the impact of China gaining market economy status, which will pose an existential threat to the European steel industry.

"What is clear due to the weak conclusions from today is that this must not deflect from the action that the UK Government should be taking to support its steel producers. Steel needs short-term action but it also requires a clear commitment to its long-term future - from both Government and employers in the industry."

Steelworkers will join a rally and march through Scunthorpe on Tuesday to protest at the loss of 900 jobs at the local Tata Steel works.

Workers from other steel closure areas in Yorkshire, Wales, Scotland and Teesside will join the march.

Mr Javid said: "I called for these talks and they have helped to place the challenges facing the steel industry right at the top of the agenda in Brussels.

"More still needs to be done at home and with our partners in Europe, but we now have encouraging and important commitments to speed up the European Commission's work on unfair trade practices and ensure the effectiveness of state aid rules.

"The UK will continue to show leadership on this issue in Europe as we know how important the steel industry is."


From Belfast Telegraph