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An emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in the steel industry is to be held

10 Nov 2015

An emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in the steel industry is to be held by European economy ministers at the request of the UK.


The industry is demanding tougher action against cheap imports of Chinese steel, which it blames for low global steel prices.


Earlier, UK, Belgian and French workers staged a protest in Brussels, where the meeting is to be held.


The UK's steel industry lost about 4,000 jobs in October.


Tees Valley estimates that another 834 jobs were lost in the supply chain of SSI steel as a result of its closure.


"The US and other countries have already moved to prevent cheap Chinese imports distorting their markets and now the EU must do the same and, do so quickly," said Gareth Stace, director of the industry body UK Steel.


"The UK must seize the moment and encourage a rapid response in Brussels if we're to prevent large scale problems for steel makers spreading in Britain and across the continent."


UK Steel says the latest data will show that artificially lowpriced reinforcing steel from China will account for more than half the UK market this year.


'Nothing off the table'


The industry has also been hit by high electricity prices, as well as the price of global steel falling by half over the past year.


Axel Eggert, director general of the European steel trade body Eurofur, called for a level playing field.


"We do not want to block imports, but we would like to see fair trade, and if fair trade is not provided by our trade partners, the EU needs to act and it needs to act immediately. We hope that this will be one of the outcomes today," he said.


That call was echoed by the Unite union.


"Hiding behind the EU as an excuse to do nothing will not wash with the tens of thousands of workers whose livelihoods depend on steelmaking in the UK," said Unite national officer Harish Patel.


"Nothing should be off the table, including a refusal to grant China market economy status while it fails to abide by EU rules on fair trade," he added.


"[Business Secretary] Sajid Javid also needs to use the opportunity to learn from his counterparts in countries such as Germany and Italy and follow their lead in developing an industrial strategy with steel at its heart."


A Business department spokesman said: "The secretary of state requested Monday's meeting of the Competitiveness Council to put the difficulties felt by the steel industry both at home in the UK and across the continent high up on the European agenda,"






















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