The SNP Government must support our steel industry, Scottish Labour said today, following the announcement of 270 job losses at the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants.

Speaking at a street stall campaign to save steel jobs in Motherwell, Kezia Dugdale set out a number of actions the SNP Government should take:

  • Urgently meet with trade unions and Tata Steel
  • Bring forward a government-led steel strategy, to retain these skills and jobs in Scotland, developed in consultation with workers and the industry, including looking at whether major infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Scottish Government could support the Scottish steel industry through the procurement process
  • Provide immediate support for anyone who has lost a job
  • Consider support for short-time working to help retain or upskill steelworkers ready for when the market recovers
  • Work with Tata Steel to preserve the industrial assets, including exploring the feasibility of temporarily bringing those assets into public ownership as a means of maintaining their integrity for future use.
  • Instruct Scottish Enterprise to lead a major review, alongside traditional industry, of how to meet the challenges of globalisation and the need for diversification

Speaking from Motherwell, Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“Today’s new is devastating, first and foremost for the workers and their families. The Scottish Government must immediately offer support to those who will soon be out of a job.

The steel industry is iconic in this part of the world. It has not only sustained jobs and boosted the local economy, it’s part of Lanarkshire’s DNA. We cannot let the light go out on the industry without a fight. When Ferguson’s was going down, the Scottish Government stepped in. When Prestwick Airport was about to close, the Scottish Government stepped in. We need the Scottish Government to do the same for our steel industry.

The workers at the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants are highly skilled and make a valuable contribution to our communities. These skills cannot be allowed to wither on the vine. Strong consideration must be given to short-time working, so that the workers can maintain the skills built up over so many years. Maintaining a high skills base is vital to securing a manufacturing future for Scotland.

The SNP Government must also take a broader look at the future of traditional industries in Scotland. From shipbuilding to oil and gas to steel, too many industries have been rocked by rapid global forces. We need a comprehensive, forensic review into how we secure the future of these industries. Constant firefighting when bad news hits is no substitute for a long-term strategy.

It is incumbent on Governments of all stripes across developed economies to maximise the benefits of globalisation and technological change. That challenge will require renewed focus from the Scottish Government if it is successfully to be navigated. Failure to rise to the challenge will result in rising inequality, increasing reliance on low-skill work and a lack of economic growth.”