Nicola Sturgeon vows to support steel manufacturing in Scotland

23 October 2015

Nicola Sturgeon has restated her commitment to ensure there is a future for steel manufacturing in Scotland after visiting the two Tata steel plants earmarked for closure, with the loss of 270 jobs.

fter talks with workers, union representatives and management at the Dalzell and Clydebridge sites in Motherwell and Cambuslang on Thursday, the first minister pledged to do “everything possible” to help to find a buyer for the threatened plants.

Sturgeon said: “The quality of the work done at these sites is outstanding and it is clear that all of the workers have a great deal of pride in what they do. During my visit, I was struck by the determination of everyone on site to keep these plants open and I was able to reassure them that the Scottish government will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to help them do that.”

She added: “We are delighted that we have been able to agree with the company today that they will support the Scottish government to try and find a buyer.”

Sturgeon also confirmed that the cross-party steel taskforce set up earlier in the week would consider wider support for the workforce as she announced that modern apprentices employed on site would have their off-the-job training guaranteed should there be a gap in their employment. Tata Steel has announced a 45-day consultation period on jobs.

While union representatives welcomed Sturgeon’s visit, they emphasised that the clock was ticking on the consultation process and that steel workers needed action as well as words.

Ross Clark, Dalzell’s multi-union representative, said: “She was very positive, but she didn’t give us false hope, and she took time to speak to people and reassure them. Obviously the workforce are realistic, and they know it’s a long shot.”

Labour MSP James Kelly, another member of the taskforce, urged the first minister to look at whether major infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Scottish government could support the steel industry through the procurement process.

“The first minister has made a lot of promises to the steelworkers. It’s now time to start delivering on those promises. Words of support are fine, but it’s actions that really count.”