Keir Starmer has backed the ‘Britain, we need our steel’ campaign led by trade unions and urged the government to “act now to secure a prosperous and viable future for our steel industry”.
In a video message circulated on social media this afternoon, the Labour leader stressed the importance of the sector to the UK and told viewers that it is “not just an industry of our past”.
He took the opportunity to throw his support behind the campaign launched by Community, GMB and Unite earlier this year and emphasised that the Covid recovery for the country will rely heavily on its steel.
Commenting on the vital role of the sector today, the Labour leader said: “The steel industry and steel workers are the bedrock and pivotal to our entire manufacturing sector. Steel works are located in iconic towns and cities…
“It is in these steel works that the steel that goes into so much of the world is made. Steel can be found in iconic structures like the Kelpies and the Angel of the North and in items we use in everyday life – like our coins, our cars and our canned food.
“Our steel workers are highly skilled people whose skills have been passed down from generation to generation. And Britain will depend on the skill of our world class steel workers to help us recover from this Covid crisis.
“Steel is not just an industry of our past. It must have a place in our future, too. A robust steel sector enables economic prosperity and growth and it’s vital for national security.
“This government must act now to secure a prosperous and viable future for our steel industry. Support the steel workers’ unions in their campaign. Britain, we need our steel.”
"We will depend on the skill of our world class steelworkers to help us recover from this crisis."
— Community Union (@CommunityUnion) October 15, 2020
Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss argued last month: “Our country desperately needs a renaissance of manufacturing, with the stability and prosperity and enormous capacity for innovation that the sector can bring.”
In an article for LabourList, he told readers: “Britain needs its steel. Steel is everywhere and fundamental to our economy and way of life. It is part of our proud industrial heritage but most importantly it is vital to our economic future.
“Recent events have reinforced the need to rebalance our economy, and vibrant manufacturing supply chains supported by a strong and secure steel industry are essential to that objective.
“The future is there to be taken, and I would urge everyone reading this piece to back the campaign to support a great British industry.”
The campaign has urged the government to use the infrastructure and investment programme it has announced to aid the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic with steel produced in Britain to support the industry.