South Yorkshire’s economy is under threat from the potential closure of Tata’s local steelworks and proposals to axe 250 civil servant jobs in Sheffield, it has been warned.
The Public and Commercial Services union said the Business Department’s proposal to shut its Sheffield office and move the jobs to London undermines Chancellor George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse agenda.
It comes as the Archbishop of Wales separately warned the closure of Tata steel plants – which employ more than 2,000 people in South Yorkshire – would ‘crush’ communities across the UK.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The Business Department’s retreat from Sheffield not only puts 250 skilled jobs at risk, but threatens the economic revival of areas that have relied on the steel industry for generations.
“This is the exact opposite of what the Government claims to want for the regions and the Civil Service, and makes a mockery of its Northern Powerhouse rhetoric.”
A rally against the closure will be held in Sheffield on Saturday, with speakers including shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan has said the steel crisis affects many areas of the UK.
He said: “It raises the question of an industrial strategy for the UK, since steel is the foundation of the manufacturing base of this country and affects many other industries.
“I am not an economist but it is a fact that business rates in the steel industry in the UK are much higher than in other parts of the EU and energy costs per ton of steel made in the UK are more than double those of Germany. Other countries have imposed tariffs on imports and massively subsidised steel production.
“The danger is that if all steel-making plants are closed, once they are gone, the price of steel will increase and that will have far reaching repercussions on our economy and industry.
“It will be too late by then and people in places like Port Talbot, whose lives and communities have been shaped by the steel industry, will have been crushed.
“If the banking industry, which still does not fully appreciate the extent of its rescue, judging by the behaviour of some of its members, was deemed worth saving, surely it is worth securing a sustainable future for the steel industry in Wales and the UK.”
Tata will begin the formal process to sell its UK plants by Monday, Business Secretary Sajid Javid said after talks in India.
Mr Javid said a number of parties had come forward, but only named Liberty Steel, whose interest is widely known.
He said the meeting was ‘constructive and positive’ and had demonstrated once again Tata was a ‘responsible company’.
Tata is known to want a quick sale, but Mr Javid gave no details of what the timeframe for a sale would be.