Ministers, companies and unions descend on Rotherham for UK steel crisis summit

Emma Haslett
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The SSI site in Redcar was finally shut down yesterday (Source: Getty)

Ministers, representatives of producers and unions have descended on Rotherham for a crisis meeting over the UK's remaining steel industry.

The summit comes a day after the final closure of the SSI steelworks in Redcar, announced last month, which caused the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The government said today's summit will address the "challenging conditions" facing the market, after reduced demand and fluctuations in currency caused average steel prices to fall 30 per cent.

Figures from World Steel have suggested global demand will remain muted, falling 1.7 per cent in 2015, with a 0.7 per cent rise in 2017.

"This is a hugely difficult time for the steel industry across the world - one of the toughest times ever," said business secretary Sajid Javid.

"It is a worldwide problem, and while it will not be solved overnight, we will work closely in partnership with the industry to help find some answers."

But Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, the steelworkers' union, warned that the event must not turn into a "talking shop".

"There is a case for urgent, short-term action to help create a level-playing field for UK steel producers. Retaining vital steel making skills should be a priority.

"Other European countries offer support for short-time working to help retain or upskill steelworkers ready for when the market recovers. The government should explore how this can be done in the UK."

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