British unions warn steel industry ‘a whisker away’ from collapse with 35,000 jobs at risk

British unions have warned that the UK steel industry, which supports around 35,000 jobs, is “a whisker away” from collapse as the country grapples with its biggest strike wave in decades amid global energy crisis.

The warning was made in a letter on Sunday to the British government from Unite, Community and GMB unions, which accused Business Secretary Grant Shapps of taking “little meaningful action” to aid the sector amid spiraling energy costs.

Unite’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner wrote that the government’s inaction leaves the sector “at breaking point” and “a whisker away from collapse.”

Turner said the steel industry’s current predicament was driven by “crippling energy costs, carbon taxes, lost markets, lower demand, and open market access for imported steel,” among other issues.

“Endless sticking plaster solutions from the Conservatives have left our UK steel sector on the brink,” he added. “Instead of finding a long-term solution, successive Conservative governments have lurched from crisis and bailouts with no plan to keep UK steel internationally competitive or deliver a return on taxpayers investment.”

The UK’s entire steel sector consists of around 1,000 firms which employ up to 35,000 people.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to approve a £300 million bailout for Britain’s second biggest steelmaker British Steel, which alone employs 4,000 people, with the package reportedly cutting the firm’s carbon footprint and protecting its current workforce.

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