Steel protest held outside Scunthorpe Jobcentre by two trade unions

A trade union protest has been held in Scunthorpe to illustrate the town’s fate if steelmaking is run down in the town.

Unite and PCS unions gathered outside Scunthorpe Jobcentre to warn of the potential impact proposed changes to the steelworks could have. British Steel is proposing to close down its coke blast furnaces in favour of one electric arc furnace in Scunthorpe.

Unions predict it could lead to up to 2,000 job losses. The steelworks currently directly employs more than 3,200 people.

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Unite argue Scunthorpe could face the long-term impacts faced by former coalfield communities in England and Wales. These include fewer jobs, increased unemployment, and a greater reliance on benefits.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The fight to prevent Scunthorpe suffering the kind of economic devastation inflicted on Britain’s coal mining communities is now. The UK steel industry can have a bright future, if it is supported like those in Germany, France and Holland. Our politicians and British Steel just have to make different choices. Unite is using every weapon in our armoury to make sure they do.”

The protest held outside the job centre on February 28 follows on from a day of action, a ‘Steel Not For Sale’ day held by Unite at the beginning of February. Scunthorpe residents showed their support for steelworkers by putting up ‘Steel Not For Sale’ signs around town.

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PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: “PCS sends total solidarity to the thousands of workers facing an uncertain future because of British Steel’s plans. We support the demonstrations organised by Unite the union outside the Jobcentre. We call on the government to intervene to prevent the UK’s vital steel industry being run down.

“PCS members working in Jobcentres, and their family and friends in Scunthorpe will also be impacted under British Steel’s plans. To rub salt into their wounds, it would also mean that these already massively overworked PCS members would have to deal with thousands of additional claimants.”

British Steel have applied for planning permission for an electric arc furnace (EAF). “From the technical perspective, EAF technology is the only solution to significantly reduce carbon emissions in a relatively short period of time whilst continuing to produce high quality steel,” states one application document.

A picture of the Scunthorpe Jobscentre protest - "The UK steel industry can have a bright future, if it is supported like those in Germany, France and Holland," said Unite's general secretary
“The UK steel industry can have a bright future, if it is supported like those in Germany, France and Holland,” said Unite’s general secretary

The move to EAFs – another would be built in Teesside – represents a £1.25bn investment to achieve longer-term sustainability, and net zero carbon goals for British Steel. The application does not indicate how many jobs will be at the Scunthorpe site should the EAF be approved and become operational.

Original artice: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/all-about/scunthorpe

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