Welsh steelworkers urge UK government to 'act now' or risk losing the steel industry 'forever'

The UK's biggest steelworks is in Port Talbot and directly employs some 4,000 people. Credit: PA

The UK government must "act now" or risk losing the steel industry "forever," steelworkers marching on 10 Downing Street have warned.

Steelworkers from across Wales and the UK, including Tata Steel UK, British Steel, Liberty Steel, Celsa Steel and Outokumpu, delivered a petition to the Prime Minister calling for him to guarantee protection for the industry.

The campaign group, led by Community trade union boss Roy Rickhuss, said that they have the public's backing after "thousands" of people signed a petition in support of Government action.

There have been years of uncertainty in the steel industry, with many plants having been on the brink of closure in 2016. Credit: PA

It comes after what the union calls "months of silence" from the UK government amid "worrying times for the industry."

Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of the steelworkers' union, Community, said:

"The steel industry is approaching a cliff edge. Soaring energy prices and cheap steel being dumped on our shores have put our industry in jeopardy.

"Britain needs a strong steel industry for a prosperous and resilient economy, to deliver net zero, for our national security, and to safeguard high quality jobs in places that really need them.

"The Government must step up. Their continued lack of support is killing our industry and time is running out. If they don't act now, we'll lose our industry forever." 

Watch: People in Port Talbot, which is home to the UK's biggest steelworks, react to calls for more support for the industry.

Mark Davies, a Port Talbot steelworker and Chair of the union's national steel sector committee, said that communities like Port Talbot rely upon the jobs the steel industry provides.

"If this government is serious about levelling up then they should start by backing our steel industry. Without government action our jobs are on the line and plant closures would be absolutely devastating. "That's why we're going to Downing Street to send a message to the Prime Minister. We're going to fight for our industry because at stake are our jobs and our communities, our way of life and our future."

A Government spokesperson said that there are "global economic conditions" that continue to play a factor in the challenges facing the steel industry, including overcapacity, unfair subsidies and dumping.

“The Government is committed to securing a sustainable and competitive future for the UK steel sector and we are working closely with industry to achieve this.

“We recognise that businesses are feeling the impact of high global energy prices, including steel producers, which is why we announced the Energy Bill Relief Scheme to bring down costs.

"This is in addition to extensive support we have provided to the steel sector as a whole to help with energy costs, worth more than £800m since 2013.”