Archive for Steel

Tom Blenkinsop response to Tata Skinningrove announcement

Responding to the announcement today by Tata Steel that 25 jobs at its Special Profiles plant at Skinningrove are at risk, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“This will be devastating news for many of the workers, and their families, at the Skinningrove site. It is clear the UK steel industry is in a perilous state and as the biggest producer, Tata Steel is particularly affected. I will be offering my support to those workers affected and will work with unions and management to try and mitigate against compulsory redundancies.”

First walkout in Tata Steel pension dispute happens in Westminster

The first walkout in Tata Steel’s ongoing pensions dispute took place not in Port Talbot or Scunthorpe but Westminster.

MPs at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel walked out as one from a meeting with Tata Steel executives in protest at the company representatives’ inability to answer their questions or address their concerns over the ongoing pensions dispute with the company.

Tom Blenkinsop MP, Chair of the Steel APPG, who was at the meeting said:
“The pensions dispute is a matter of such serious concern to our constituents that we expected a full discussion about the issues and principles at stake. It was clear that only the CEO of Tata Steel could provide the answers to our questions but he only sent his spokespeople. We felt there was no point continuing the dialogue today and we’ve demanded that Karl Koehler attends in person, so that we can hear first-hand how the company has found itself on the brink of the first national steel dispute for 35 years and what he intends to do to find a resolution to this situation. At the least, Tata should be getting back round the table with the unions.”

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary, Community, said:
“Our members will welcome the actions of the steel MPs. We have also been seeking answers from the company and looking for them to recognise the overwhelming strength of feeling among their workforce about their pensions. If the massive vote in favour of strike action was not enough, then the company should heed this message from MPs and return to meaningful discussions with the unions in line with Tata’s values of responsibility and integrity.”

Tom backs opportunity to ‘stand up for steel’ in Parliament debate

Tom Blenkinsop MP has welcomed Wednesday’s (14th January 2015) Opposition Day debate on foundation industries.

Representatives of steelworkers from across the UK will attend Parliament to urge MPs to ‘stand up for steel’.

Tom, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Steel Group, said:
“Steel underpins every facet of a modern economy and steel underpins every element of our daily life. But steel in the UK without a proper state economic strategy for growth and industrial development will continue to drift.

“It’s good that Labour will stand up for steel in Parliament this week because the industry is under pressure and yet it is fundamental to many of the UK’s strategically important supply chains. Construction, automotive, energy and many other sectors all need a vibrant and sustainable UK steel industry, but it has been struggling to compete because of this government’s policies.

“Labour is absolutely right to hold the government to account over its lack of action in support of UK foundation industries. I will be proud to speak on behalf of Community’s steelworkers as I stand up for steel in Parliament on Wednesday.”

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:
“As the union for steelworkers we are pleased that the Labour Party has chosen to make foundation industries the focus of an Opposition Day debate and we look forward to attending and lobbying MPs next Wednesday.

“Along with steel employers, we have been making the case for some time to government that the UK steel industry needs more than warm words from ministers to overcome the challenges that the industry currently faces.

“The government has missed too many opportunities to address the concerns of our members and their employers who are worried for the future of UK steel as they try to compete in a global market against countries, such as France and Germany, which provide far more support to their foundation industries.

“Thanks to Labour’s initiative, government ministers have another opportunity to stand up for steel, stand up for industry and stand up for Britain. I hope they will seize the moment.”

‘Osborne’s Autumn Statement is a road to nowhere for Teesside’

Reacting to the final Autumn Statement before the General Election next year by Tory Chancellor George Osborne, local Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said:

“Budget after budget, statement after statement, Teesside and East Cleveland residents and businesses have been failed by this Tory-led Government.

“On the big issues holding back the area – the lack of rail electrification to Teesside and the uncertainty surrounding the steel industry – we heard nothing from the Chancellor. In his own words earlier this year he vowed to create a “Northern Powerhouse”, but from today’s statement it is quite clear he doesn’t have the policies or ideas to deliver that pledge.

“On the NHS – the Chancellor has not found an extra £2 billion for the NHS, as he claims, but instead is proposing to recycle funds already in the Department of Health budget. This is crisis cash because of the fragile financial state of the NHS after the Government’s £3 billion reorganisation. Our local NHS alone is facing £90 million cuts over the next few years.

“And on the cost-of-living crisis being faced by households across Britain and on Teesside it is complete failure. George Osborne and David Cameron promised living standards would rise but since the last election, wages have fallen behind prices month after month. Working people are now on average £1,600 a year worse off since the Tories got elected, while millionaires have been given a huge tax cut and new figures show full-time workers are now £2,000 a year worse off under David Cameron.

“This cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor is set to break another promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year. When wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get borrowing down don’t come in. So the Tory failure to deliver a recovery that works for the many and not just a few is the reason why they’re failing on the deficit too.

“Labour has a better and fairer plan. We’ll raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, freeze energy bills, reform the banks and we’ll cut business rates for small firms, boost apprenticeships, tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts and expand free childcare for working parents.

“Today we heard more of the same – an economic plan that is failing everyday working people, old announcements dressed up in the Emperor’s new clothes and one that is leaving Teesside – and the North East – on a road to nowhere. By delaying this Autumn Statement until a few weeks before Christmas, George Osborne has ensured that people know who the real Scrooge is.”

‘Deal collapse in Wales is ominous for Teesside steel’

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has today (5th November 2014) claimed that the collapse of the deal for Klesch Group to buy a Pembrokeshire oil refinery is a significant warning sign over their involvement of steel production on Teesside.

Last month, Tata Steel announced that it is restructuring its long products division leading to the Klesch offer which includes the special profiles businesses in Skinningrove, east Cleveland and Darlington; Teesside beam mill at Lackenby, distribution sites in Teesside and Newcastle, and Tata’s 4,000 jobs steel plant in Scunthorpe.

Tom said:
“The collapse of this deal is a disaster for the workforce in Pembrokeshire and it must act as a warning over the potential deal between Klesch and Tata Steel for its Long Products Division. It raises questions over how serious they are about taking over the business, and even more so that they continue to invest and that jobs are secured as part of the process.

“Given the inability of the Klesch Group to complete the purchase of the Murco oil refinery in Wales and the subsequent job losses to which this is leading, Labour will raise the issue in Parliament asking what safeguards are being in place to ensure that jobs in Tata Steel will be secure, regardless of whether the Klesch Group successfully purchases Tata’s Long Products Division?

“It is truly devastating what has happened in Pembrokeshire and I sincerely hope that a new buyer can step up to the mark. The Government must do everything in its power to provide every possible support to the highly skilled workforce.”

Tom raises concerns over Tata Steel Long Products sale with Business Minister

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, will today (Monday 27th October 2014) raise his concerns over the sale process of the Long Products division of Tata Steel with Business Minister Vince Cable.

In a meeting with representatives from Community Union, MPs with Tata sites in their constituencies and the Business Minister, issues such as the speed of the process and involvement of workers will be raised.

Ahead of the meeting Tom said:
“I firmly believe that the sale process needs slowing down. Selling off over half of Tata’s steel footprint is a very worrying development and could have huge ramifications for the UK steel industry in general. Not to mention the impact on workers’ pensions across all UK Tata sites.

“Tata urgently need to sit down with the workforce and reassure them that it will not repeat recent tactics, such as those evidenced at the Tata labs in Grangetown, where national agreements were reneged upon.

“Following my request, I am pleased that I was able to get Trade Unions a seat at the negotiating table. This will ensure that all those involved will be both well informed and focussed on acting in the best interests of the workforce.”

Tom supports 100th ‘Kids of Steel’ event in Parliament

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, will be supporting the 100th TATA Kids of Steel event in Parliament next week (Monday 25th November 2013).

The TATA Kids of Steel series aims to encourage children across the UK to adopt a healthier lifestyle through sport and exercise, as well as providing a great day out for the local community. Two events have previously been held on Teesside – most recently in September at the Eston Leisure Centre.

30 children, including from Lingfield Primary School, have been invited by Tata Steel to participate in the event.

The children will complete a swim on an indoor ‘swim-trainer’, a bike on a ‘turbo trainer’ and a run on a treadmill. Each child will have two minutes on each activity to complete as much distance as they can, with a challenge laid down to see if between them, they can complete an Olympic distance triathlon of 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run.

Tom said:
“I’m proud to be sponsoring this special event next week in Parliament. It is probably the first of triathlon to ever take place in Parliament. I’m very pleased that local school children from Lingfield Primary School are also able to make the journey down to take part.

“The work TATA Steel and the British Triathlon Federation have been doing to promote a healthy lifestyle for young people has been invaluable so I hope they can build on the work they have already done.

“I’m sure it will be a memorable afternoon for all of the children involved.”

Response to loss of 400 jobs at UK TATA sites

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Steel and Related Industries, Tom Blenkinsop MP (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) responds to announcement of restructuring proposals which could lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs – including 40 at the Teesside site.

Tom said:
“Unfortunately this is another dark day for the UK steel industry – an industry that has really had to fight over the past few years to survive in what continues to be a tough market, particularly since the financial crash. Although there has been some growth in long products demand it has still been well below 2007-08 levels.

“It is imperative that the company does all it can to support those workers affected by their decision to cut those jobs, and, where possible avoiding any compulsory redundancies.

“More broadly, it shows the fragile nature of what still remains a very important industry for the UK. If the Government is serious about rebalancing the economy then it is imperative that it plays an active role in supporting our manufacturing and other industries.”

Tom calls on Government to intervene immediately with the European Commission over disastrous reduction in carbon emission permits

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (11th September 2013) made a plea to Business Ministers and a North East MEP asking them to intervene immediately to re-open discussions on planned European Commission reductions in carbon emission permits – a reduction that will further reduce the effectiveness and profitability of the Teesside Steel Industry.

Tom said:
“This sudden decision came like a bolt from the blue. It is highly technical, but what has happened is that the European Commission has decided to amend the level of free carbon emission allocations for large industrial installations by 5.73% in 2013, increasing thereafter to 17.56% in 2020. The average reduction of free allocation will be 11.58% over the period 2013 to 2020.

“This is a devastating blow in particular to Europe’s steel industry, whose allocations had already been reduced to below what the industry will require over the period. This measure will cost Tata Steel, for example, tens of millions of pounds of additional costs – costs not faced by our competitors outside Europe – as they will now have to buy additional carbon emission permits on the market through what is known as ‘carbon trading’.

“This is despite the steel industry here already being designated by the European Commission as ‘at risk of carbon leakage’ driving steel production out of Europe to regions without a carbon tax and generally less efficient plants – for example a tonne of steel made in China emits on average 60% more CO2 than one made in Europe.

“The Government must act – and act quickly. It is unbelievable that such a measure was allowed to slip through unnoticed as, undoubtedly; UK civil servants would have been present at the relevant meetings. I have written to Dr Vince Cable the Secretary of State for Business and to Michael Fallon MP at the Department for Energy and Climate Change as well as to Stephen Hughes, the North East Labour Member of the European Parliament, asking them to intervene, even at the 11th hour, to see if this mad decision can be reversed.”

Tom reacts to steel job losses

Commenting on today’s (23rd November 2012) news that 900 jobs are to be lost as part of a restructuring process by Tata Steel, Tom Blenkinsop MP – who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Related Industry – described it as “very bad news for manufacturing in the UK”.

The proposed changes are expected to lead to a net loss of 900 jobs in the UK, including 580 in South Wales, 155 in Yorkshire, 120 in the West Midlands and 30 in Teesside.

Tom said:
“Clearly this is devastating news for the workers and their families, particularly at this time of year approaching the festive season. I understand Community Union officials are talking with the company urging there to be no compulsory redundancies and that training and support will be offered to those who lose their jobs.

“As Chair of the APPG on Steel and Related Industry I’m currently in the process of arranging an emergency meeting to raise our concerns over this latest news, but also the failure of the Government’s to push for manufacturing and infrastructure jobs that is directly impacting on steel production in the UK that has seen the steepest fall in demand compared to any other major European Economy.

“I’m all too familiar with the impact such job losses can have on communities – particular when that industry has been part of an area for many years. My thoughts are with those workers who will now find themselves out of work through no fault of their own.”