The union Unite today outlined its plan to the Trade Union Congress conference on how British manufacturing can be restored to its former glory.
Speaking in the economy and manufacturing debate, Unite Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke said the economy needs manufacturing to thrive and not just services and appeared to advocate a more protectionist and interventionist stance form government towards UK industry in the same vain as some of our continental cousins, with financial assistance to be made available.
He identified the chemical and pharmaceuticals, automotive and defence industries as strategically important sectors which should be defended.
“We have learnt that the markets do not provide all the answers,” he said. “We can see other countries, such as France and Germany, defending their strategic manufacturing base against the ravages of private equity speculators, and providing support where necessary to manufacturing companies. We should be following the same strategy here.”
He said the coalition was wrong to withdraw the £80 million loan for Sheffield Forgemasters, agreed by Lord Mandelson under Labour.
“Here is a modern steel industry company wanting to invest £80 million in new plant to provide the only UK facility capable of providing steel parts for nuclear power stations and create 180 new skilled jobs.
“The private banks were not prepared to lend the money, so the outgoing Labour government offered a loan.”
“This was no bail out for a lame duck company. This was a loan – to be paid back!
So what do the ConDem coalition do, led by Sheffield MP Nick Clegg? It cancels the loan. This decision was short-sighted and destructive, and based on political dogma.”
Unite also says the UK needs to concentrate on maximising the opportunities that the low carbon revolution offers and should build up its science capability.
The TUC’s annual Congress is being held at the Manchester Central Convention Complex from Monday to Thursday this week.