Friday, October 16, 2015

News: Council backing for UK steel

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A motion is being put forward at Rotherham Council's full meeting next week that would see the authority sign up to a charter that promotes the use of sustainable British steel in construction projects.

As ministers, steel companies, MPs, unions and trade bodies meet in Rotherham today to discuss the steel industry, Rotherham Council is set to back a charter established by UK Steel, the trade association for the UK steel industry. It is also being asked to support proposals to reform EU policies and regulation that would help UK steel plants operate on a more level playing field against competitors.

The trade body is asking organisations in the private and public sector to voluntarily commit to purchasing carbon steel reinforcement for concrete only from vendors that adhere to the Framework Standard for Responsible Sourcing (BES 6001). It is already supported by Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion.

The motion, put forward by Cllr. Sue Ellis, reads: "This Council:- Notes with deep concern the recent announcements across the UK steel industry. The Council urges the company to work with the trade unions to help build a sustainable future for steel in the UK. The Council recognises that the cost of energy and European rules on carbon emissions makes the UK a challenging climate in which to produce steel.

"The Council believes that all levels of Government should support the UK steel industry, not only as a source of tens of thousands of jobs, but also given its role as a foundation industry of key strategic importance to the wider economy. The Council, therefore, resolves to support the "Charter for Sustainable British Steel" as promoted by the UK Steel organisation.

"The Council also supports the proposals of UK Steel and Community regarding the EU Emissions Trading System, proposals which call for the steel sector to be helped to decarbonise in a way that ensures its future and the many thousands of valuable jobs it provides, rather than being pushed overseas."

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel, said: "The steel sector employs around 30,000 people, many in areas of relatively high unemployment, and contributes more than £45bn to the UK economy. And yet it is a sector under extreme stress. Surplus production capacity in the global market, unfair trade practices, a strong pound, high energy costs and regulatory pressures such as the EU Emissions Trading System are all making it hard for UK plants to compete."

Council leader, Chris Read was asked at the last full council meeting on the Council's response to the restructure at Tata Steel - a move that has put 720 jobs are at risk, many in Rotherham. He explained he had taken action, "had spoken to colleagues in RIDO, was supporting multi-agency efforts, had had conversations with colleagues in the City Region in how best to help keep people in work should the worse possible things happen. Discussions were also taking place with trades unions representatives at the plant."

Rotherham Council website

Images: Tata Steel

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