Redcar steel has built the world - from Sydney Harbour Bridge to the new Wembley Stadium.
But earlier this month, after 170 years of steelmaking tradition, the furnaces were extinguished. 2,200 jobs were lost. And another 6,000 jobs in our community will also disappear.
When SSI, who owned the site, went into liquidation citing low global steel prices, the Tory government refused to act. When we petitioned for more time to find a new buyer and keep the plant going, the Government refused to act.
British steel is vital to our whole economy – it’s fundamental to key sectors like aerospace, defence, energy infrastructure and construction. But the Tories seem to have no industrial strategy at all.
The impact of the closure on Redcar is just heart-breaking. For so long steelmaking was the heart of our community, now it has gone.
Last weekend, Tom came to see me at my surgery. He has been an apprentice at SSI for three years and four months. He wants to continue and finish his apprenticeship that he’s worked so hard on, but was told by a Department for Work and Pensions official that he should get a job in a bar or in retail.
Another 50 apprentices like Tom were due to start on the day that SSI paused production. Young people looking forward to starting an exciting career in engineering, let down by a government with no commitment to British industry.
And it’s not just Redcar
In Scunthorpe, 900 jobs have been lost, a further 270 in Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland. The steel industry faces problems globally, but not in every country are people losing their jobs.
Just last December, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi took action to secure a future for Italy’s largest steel works in Taranto. And Angela Merkel has boosted the German steel industry by ensuring they are protected from high energy prices.
In Britain, our steel industry is failing, and our government doesn’t seem to care. Just last weekend Michael Heseltine said it was ‘as good a time’ as any for workers in Redcar and elsewhere to lose their jobs.
The Government needs to act now
We’re calling on the Government to fully implement the agreed compensation package which is supposed to provide re-training and support for those who have lost their jobs. If they don’t take action now, Tom, and all the people I represent in Redcar, will never be able to forgive them.
Anna Turley is the Member of Parliament for Redcar and was elected in 2015, winning the seat from the Liberal Democrats. You can keep up to date on the situation from Anna herself at www.anna4redcar.org.uk