Sturgeon Pledges Scottish Steel Taskforce

18 October 2015, 08:39

Tata Steel

Nicola Sturgeon vowed to leave ''no stone unturned'' in seeking to rescue the Scottish steel industry after the threatened closure of the last two major works left hundreds of jobs in jeopardy.

Steelmaking will effectively end in Scotland if cuts in Dalzell and Clydebridge are confirmed when Tata sets out its plans next week - with Scunthorpe in England also expected to be badly hit.

It is another massive blow to an industry still reeling from the end of steelmaking at the Redcar plant on Teesside.

The First Minister told the Scottish National Party conference in Aberdeen that a taskforce was being prepared to seek a viable future for the plants and industry.

''The company has not yet publicly confirmed its plans,'' she told delegates.

''However, if our worst fears are realised next week, I can confirm that I will immediately establish a taskforce to work with the company, the trade unions and the relevant local authorities.

''And I promise this: we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to find and secure a viable future for these plants and for our steel industry here in Scotland.''

She spoke shortly after delegates adopted an emergency motion demanding ''immediate action'' by the Scottish and UK governments, working with trade unions, and declaring solidarity with workers and their families.

It was moved by MSP Clare Adamson who said the SNP administration at Holyrood ''will be doing everything it possibly can to ensure a just outcome to this very difficult situation''.

Scottish TUC leader Grahame Smith called for clarity from Tata.

''This morning, hundreds of workers and their families have woken up with this hanging over them,'' he told the conference.

''We need immediate clarity from the company as to its intentions and a commitment that it will work with the unions, the workforce and the Scottish Government to ensure the future of steel production in Scotland.''

Tata has said it will not comment on ''rumour and speculation'', but an announcement is expected on Tuesday.

News of the cuts emerged on Friday as the Government held a summit in Rotherham to discuss the crisis gripping the industry amid plunging prices and cheap imports.

Unions, business leaders and ministers attended the summit in Rotherham, which was overshadowed by the news of even more job losses.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ''Since last year, when Tata Steel first announced the potential sale of its Long Products Division, the Scottish Government and its agencies have been in constant contact with both Tata Steel and with the trades unions.

''We continue to be in contact to explore all possible options to find a viable future for the company's sites in Scotland.

''In the unfortunate event of any redundancies, our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace), stands ready to offer support for affected employees and to work closely with the company and workforce representatives to provide a tailored package of support, should this be required.''

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