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Steel unions urge Boris Johnson to slash power costs in Energy Security Strategy

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The Community and Unite unions have written to the Prime Minister calling on him to throw the industry a lifeline when he finally publishes the landmark plan on Thursday

Unions have written to the Prime Minister calling for help

Steelworkers’ leaders today urged Boris Johnson to slash the industry’s power costs when he finally unveils his Energy Security Strategy tomorrow.

The sector uses huge amounts of electricity in manufacturing, and production is being hampered by soaring prices.

Some plants have been forced to trigger temporary shutdowns because steelmaking has become so expensive.

The Community and Unite unions today penned a joint letter to the Prime Minister warning of an “existential threat” to the industry and demanding action when he publishes the blueprint.

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“We urge you to seize this opportunity to support our industry through the energy crisis, and close the gap between British and EU energy prices which costs our steelmakers £50million every year,” their 622-word letter, seen by the Mirror, warns the PM.

Sector leaders fear for the industry’s future
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Image:

Getty)

“For years our steelworkers have competed with one hand tied behind their backs due to the failure of successive governments to take action on uncompetitive industrial energy prices.

“However, the ongoing energy crisis, exacerbated by Russia ’s invasion of Ukraine, has turned a serious competitive disadvantage into an existential threat to our industry and our steel communities.”

Britain’s steel sector directly employs 33,700 workers and supports another 42,000 posts in supply chains.

It is worth £2.1billion to the UK economy.

But leaders fear for its future if high energy costs persist.

The letter to the PM adds: “We appeal to you, in the strongest terms, to support our steel industry through the Energy Security Strategy.

The industry uses vast quantities of energy
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Image:

Jonathan Myers)

“With the right framework of support our industry can have a bright future, but that future hinges on your Government making the right choices on energy prices.”

The Mirror revealed a UK Steel report last December that warned “disproportionately high electricity prices have cost UK steelmakers an extra £90million this year” and £345million over the last six years – “the equivalent of almost two years’ capital investment in the sector”.

On average, British producers were paying 61% more than German firms and 51% more than French for electricity, it added.

Community steelworkers’ union general secretary Roy Rickhuss said today “Astronomical energy prices are killing our steel industry and this must be addressed through the Government’s Energy Security Strategy.

Community steelworkers’ union general secretary Roy Rickhuss
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Image:

Daily Mirror)

“Investing in nuclear and renewables may lead to affordable energy in a decade’s time, but our steel industry needs government to implement solutions now.

“Already the crisis has led to production pauses in our companies, and without action those pauses will become increasingly frequent and threaten jobs.”

Unite national officer Harish Patel added: “For years our steelmakers have paid too much for energy as successive governments have failed to deliver the level playing field our industry needs.

“Britain’s steelworkers urge the Prime Minister to act now to support our industry and back our steel communities, before it becomes too late.”

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and whose South Wales constituency includes Britain’s biggest steelworks, Port Talbot, said: “Unions are right to join forces to call on the Prime Minister to deliver his Brexit promise of cutting energy prices for the steel industry.

“A modernised British steel industry is absolutely critical for good jobs, our economic prosperity, meeting net zero targets, and our national security.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel
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Richard Townshend Photography)

“The Prime Minister needs to make good his promises and recognise the high potential cost of doing nothing.”

The Mirror has been campaigning to Save Our Steel since 2015.

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