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7 November 2015, 07:21
Hundreds of steel workers are to stage a march in a bid to save their jobs and prevent the closure of the steel industry in Scotland.
Steel firm Tata announced the mothballing of its operations at Lanarkshire sites Dalzell in Motherwell and Clydebridge in Cambuslang last month, with the loss of 270 jobs.
Workers, union leaders and supporters are to march from Dalzell to the site of the former Ravenscraig steel works today in support of action to save the threatened steel plants and jobs.
Around 200 people are expected to take part in the march, followed by a rally to be addressed by MSP and former steel worker John Pentland and union representatives.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to do everything in her power to secure the future of the industry and set up a taskforce with the priority of finding a new commercial operator for the two plants and support workers facing redundancy.
The group, which has already met, is comprised of representatives from Tata, South and North Lanarkshire councils, trade unions, Scottish Enterprise, elected representatives and industry bodies.
At its peak, steelmaking employed more than 10,000 people in plants and surrounding businesses in central Scotland, with the famous Ravenscraig site once the biggest producer of hot-strip steel in Europe.
Workers from the Dalzell site unveiled a Save Our Steel banner outside the plant earlier this week before boarding a bus for Holyrood to hear MSPs discuss the industry in Scotland.
Community union representative Derek Fearon said: ''We are trying to raise awareness of the campaign, and hopefully through this Tata will become a responsible seller.
''The main aim of the taskforce, the priority of it, is for the two plants to remain open.
''The mood is upbeat, the guys are still positive that everything can be done for the two plants to be saved.''
Mr Pentland, a former welder in the steel industry, led the parliamentary debate on Wednesday.
He said: ''There is no doubt that our steel workers at Dalzell and Clydebridge are at the sharp end of unfair competition, where Chinese steel production pays less heed to working conditions, health and safety, and quality.
''I believe Scottish steel can have a future, and we must consider all the options to achieve that.
''We need to make sure the Scottish Government does what is needed to save our steel. We need a strategy to get work for the industry, with more work provided through procurement. The government's taskforce can't be just a talking shop - it must deliver action.
''Nothing should be off the table for Scottish steel.''
The SNP's Clare Adamson, a member of the taskforce, said the closure of the Ravesncraig steelworks more than two decades ago brought her into politics.
Speaking at Holyrood, she said: ''The idea of losing these skilled jobs at Dalzell and Clydebridge would represent not only a major blow to the 270 workers and the local economy, but would have a significant negative impact on the national economy.
''I trust that today from this chamber we send out that message of solidarity that we will be doing everything wee can to stand with you in this fight to save Scottish steel.''