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UK steel industry a whisker away from collapse: Unions

Saeed Pourreza
Press TV, Scunthorpe

For more than 120 years, the steel works have dotted the Scunthorpe skyline. Its glory days when tens of thousands of people worked here are long gone, and these are anxious times for the 4,000 or so staff on shift, and tens of thousands in the supply chain.

British Steel is the UK's second largest steel manufacturer after India owned Tata Group, ranking 25th worldwide and 8th in Europe. However, it has been troubled for decades. In 2019, the uncertainty over Brexit pushed it to bankruptcy. Since then, it has had three owners, most recently China's Jingye Group, which is asking the British government for hundreds of millions of dollars to go green, and to keep its doors open.

Soaring energy prices fueled by the UK-backed war in Ukraine, carbon taxes, and lost markets are only some of the reasons that have added to the already tough trading conditions.

The 370-million dollar rescue package from the government is to help British Steel replace its energy intensive coal-burning blast furnaces with electric alternatives; only a short while after number 10 gave the green light for a new coalmine near Scotland.

It also comes a few days after British-Volte, a car battery giga-factory, touted as a Brexit success story, declared bankruptcy.

British Steel, underpins the essential sectors in the UK, from transport to construction, but the unions such as GMB say the government handout is a sticking plaster that will do little for the industry's long-term future, as the industry lurches from one crisis to another.

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