Rallying cry issued to save Sheffield’s world class Forgemasters

Sheffield Forgemasters
Sheffield Forgemasters
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Help protect Sheffield’s ‘world class’ Forgemasters.

That was the rallying cry issued today after it was revealed up to 100 jobs will be axed by the steel giant.

Sheffield Forgemasters works

Sheffield Forgemasters works

Union bosses said products made for Britain should be built using British steel to help protect ‘world class’ firms such as Forgemasters.

The Brightside company said reduced activity in the traditional oil and gas sector, slowing down of growth in the global economy and an international collapse in steel prices had adversely affected its results for 2014.

Forgemasters also cited acute pricing pressures from international competitors combined with high UK energy costs as key factors.

Harish Patel, Unite union’s national officer said: “World class companies like Sheffield Forgemasters need urgent support and a level playing field with their international competitors if they are to survive.

“It wasn’t that long ago that Government ministers pulled the plug on a loan that would have allowed Sheffield Forgemasters to invest in new equipment making it more productive.

“The Government now needs to right that wrong by guaranteeing that British companies such as Sheffield Forgemasters are never again excluded from tendering for British infrastructure projects.

“If it’s made for Britain then it should be built using British steel. Firms such as Forgemasters should be looking forward to helping build the new gas and nuclear power plants which are in the pipeline, not left fighting for their survival on an uneven playing field.”

Roy Rickhuss, Community’s general secretary said: “Every sector of the UK steel industry is caught up in the current crisis. We keep saying that delays in implementation of support and a lack of swift and decisive action by Government only puts more steel jobs at risk. The announcement by Sheffield Forgemasters just increases the number of steelworkers and their families worried about their futures.

“We will be meeting with the company in the coming days to examine and test their proposals, mitigate the impact on jobs and ensure a sustainable future for the business.

“The spectre of the UK’s cosy relationship with China hangs over the entire steel industry. The Prime Minister needs to stand up to China and stand up for our steel industry. When the UK steel industry is cut out of procurement deals such as at Hinkley Point, or sees its Government cheerleading for China’s market economy status then it’s no wonder the industry is in crisis. We need to see evidence that Government is committed to the long-term future of UK steel making and that needs a lot more short-term action.”

Steve Morris, GMB Regional organiser, said “GMB is incensed that the lack of action by the Governments and the lack of a coherent policy for manufacturing is once again costing jobs in South Yorkshire.

“The Government have been asleep on the job allowing our steel industry to be disadvantaged in comparison to producers across Europe whilst actively encouraging China to dump its subsidised steel in the UK. The lack of action from the EU Commission to stop dumping of Chinese steel is intolerable.

“The long term future demand for steel in the UK is healthy and will be even more so if the proposed Northern Powerhouse intra-structure improvements ever get off the ground.

“However if we don’t protect steel jobs now that demand will be satisfied by imports while highly skilled steel workers either receive benefits or carry out lower paid lower skilled jobs.

“When the banks were in trouble the Government came to their rescue. They shouldn’t just sit on their hands when it comes to manufacturing jobs.”

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Harry Harpham said: “The announcement of these job losses will be devastating to those effected and their families. The steel industry is under enormous pressure, but instead of the swift and decisive support from Government that we need, David Cameron and his Ministers are making token gestures and sitting on their hands.”

Mr Harpham raised the job losses with Mr Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He said: “I put it to him that he needed to pull his finger out and give the industry the urgent support it needs. All I got back was political hot air. It’s clear that, whatever they claim to be doing, the truth is the Tories are content to see jobs go while they dilly-dally with half-measures.

“It’s pretty much par for the course with Cameron that, as far as ordinary people’s livelihoods are concerned, he hasn’t got a clue.”

Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle said: “These latest job losses will be devastating news for the workers affected especially given the uncertainty that they’ve endured as the plant restructures to secure its near-term future. There is also a loss to the wider economy due the high-quality and specialist nature of the steel produced at the plant which is of strategic importance to our national security.

“The Government must take faster and more decisive action to assist, especially on relief for business rates and high energy costs.”

A Government spokesman said: “It has been a challenging time for the steel industry facing tough global economic conditions. We will work with local partners to help anyone made redundant find new jobs as quickly as possible.

“We understand that Sheffield Forgemasters is taking this step to restructure the business to secure its long-term future and welcome the news that its lending facility has been extended.

“The Government has taken clear action to help the steel industry, through cutting energy costs, taking action on imports, Government procurement and EU emissions regulations, meeting key steel industry asks.”