The “devastating” impact of the crisis gripping the steel industry has been revealed in figures showing how difficult it is for workers to find other jobs.
A government report showed that over half of SSI steel workers in Redcar are still looking for work four months after the plant closed.
Between the date of the closure last October, and earlier this month, 1,940 former employees had made a claim for jobseeker’s allowance, although 690 stopped claiming during the period.
The plant’s closure highlighted the devastating impact on the industry of high energy costs and cheap Chinese imports, which worsened this week when Tata announced 1,050 job cuts, mainly at Port Talbot in South Wales.
A spokesman for the steelworkers’ union Community said: “These figures only reveal a fraction of the devastating impact that the closure of SSI has had on the area and just how important the steel industry was to Redcar.
“Hundreds of our members are still looking for work and many of those who have found new employment are not benefitting from the same terms and conditions that had been available in the steel industry.
“Community is continuing to support the legal claims of former SSI workers and contractors to help them get what they are owed and to signpost people to job opportunities where we can.
“What happened in Redcar must not be repeated and that’s why there needs to be more swift and decisive action from the Government to support the UK steel industry. This means delivering support on energy costs, business rates and standing up to China to stop unfairly traded steel damaging the UK industry.”
Michael Blench, regional officer of the GMB union, said: “Politicians are not slow to tell workers that their economic fate relies on the market and their position in it. This was not the case on Teesside.
“The nearly 2,000 steel workers who lost their jobs on Teesside did so as a direct result of the actions of some politicians and the failure of others to act. These politicians failed to listen to repeated warnings of the adverse consequences of their policies.
“EU politicians are still failing to act to stop to stop the dumping of Chinese steel from a country that is not a market economy. This failure to act is intolerable.”
Owen Smith, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The Tories have badly failed British steel workers by sitting on their hands, while our steel industry has been collapsing around us. Now these figures show that they are at risk of failing people after they have been laid off as well.
“It’s galling to see that over half of workers from the SSI steel workers in Redcar and its supply chains, are still out of a job almost four months after the plant has closed. These are men and women who have worked hard all their lives and will be desperate to get new jobs, but the opportunities and support is simply not there. So much for the Tories’ talk of rebalancing the economy.”