OPINION: Why won't our government match steelworkers' will to fight?

We all knew that South Yorkshire's steelworkers would not go quietly without a fight.

Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 6:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 6:16 am
Tata Steel, Stocksbridge.
Tata Steel, Stocksbridge.

Just days after Tata Steel announced it may sell off its UK steel plants, Forgemasters has landed a £1million contract from the US.

Steelworkers, and the industry as a whole, have shown their mettle and come out swinging, determined not to be crushed under the weight of the apparent gloom surrounding their futures.

Despite having to lay off 50 workers last month, Forgemasters won its new contract not by being the cheapest option but by proving the company’s value lies in its expertise and quality.

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As detractors line up to argue that the UK’s steel industry is being doomed by cheap Chinese steel, Forgemasters is able to land a seven-figure contract by convincing people on the global stage that quality and expertise are worth paying for.

Tata’s Stocksbridge plant, similarly, can produce specialist products and is set up to meet the unique demands of the defence and aerospace industries.

Surely, as long as there continues to be a demand for high quality and specialist steel, this shows that our steelworks have a future

But a little help from the Government would go a long way.

Last week, we also called on leaders to do something to assist British steel.

Government talks at Downing Street and with Tata in India yesterday centred on Port Talbot.

This is no doubt a vital cornerstone of the Welsh economy, but while Port Talbot may grab the headlines, we can only call on Sajid Javid et al not to forget about the very birthplace of British steel, us lot here in Sheffield.

Measures have been announced which say public sector contracts ‘must consider’ British steel and the socioeconomic factors of choosing local or foreign contracts.

Thanks, but it’s not strong enough.

Forget must consider - how about ‘must use’, unless there is no suitable British bid?

And why are crippling green taxes being levied on our plants, yet while China slaps UK imports with a staggering 46 per cent surcharge, our own Government has done little to fend off Asian steel in return?

Our steel workers have shown in the last week that not only do they want to fight, they have the energy and the capability to do so on the global stage.

Why doesn’t our own Government?