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FM visits Tata Steel and agrees to work with firm to secure future for the workforce.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has held talks on the future of Scottish steel with the workforce and management at two Tata Steel sites, pledging to do everything possible to help the firm find a buyer and keep production going.
The First Minister visited Dalzell and Clydebridge following the announcement earlier this week that Tata Steel intended to mothball the sites, putting 270 jobs at risk.
During her visit, the First Minister and Tata Steel agreed that the firm would work with the Scottish Government's taskforce to seek the continuation of steel manufacturing on the sites by identifying a buyer that could ensure the highly skilled jobs are retained.
Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that the Scottish Government task force would consider wider support for the workforce as she announced that modern apprentices employed on site would have their off-the-job training guaranteed should there be a gap in their employment.
And she confirmed that Fergus Ewing, the Business Minister, would make a statement on the steel industry to the Scottish Parliament at the earliest opportunity following recess.
The First Minister said:
"The announcement that the steel plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge are to be mothballed has been extremely distressing for the workforce and it was important for me to visit the sites today to hear first-hand their perspective on this difficult situation.
"The quality of the work done at these sites is outstanding and it is clear that all of the workers have a great deal of pride in what they do. During my visit, I was struck by the determination of everyone on site to keep these plants open and I was able to reassure them that the Scottish Government will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to help them do that.
"The task force I announced earlier this week is an important starting point in those efforts. It will bring together a range of people, including unions, local authorities, politicians and other agencies to focus on identifying new owners, maintaining the operation and retaining the highly skilled jobs in Dalzell and Clydebridge. I am delighted that we have been able to agree with the company today that they will support the Scottish Government to try and find a buyer.
"The taskforce will also consider wider support for the workforce at this difficult time, including what can be done to ensure that the modern apprentices employed on site do not have their education affected.
"To that end, I am happy to confirm that as an early step, the Scottish Government will guarantee that the MAs employed here will be able to continue with the off the job training required to complete their apprenticeship should there be a gap in their employment.
"I firmly believe that there is a future for steel manufacturing in Scotland and nothing I have seen today has diminished that opinion. Together with the workforce, unions and others, the Scottish Government will continue to take every action to secure the future of this industry."
The First Minister announced earlier this week that the Scottish Government would establish a taskforce to seek a viable alternative to the potential mothballing of Tata Steel operations in Scotland. More information is here - http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Scottish-Steel-Task-Force-1e78.aspx
Today, the First Minister confirmed the make-up of that taskforce, which will meet for the first time on 29 October. This is as follows:
- Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism
- Head of Economic Development Directorate
- Chief Economist
North Lanarkshire Council
- Councillor Jim McCabe, Leader North Lanarkshire Council
- Paul Jukes, new Chief Executive, North Lanarkshire Council
South Lanarkshire Council
- Councillor Eddie McAvoy, Leader, South Lanarkshire Council
- Lindsay Freeland, Chief Executive, South Lanarkshire Council
- Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Development International
- Skills Development Scotland – PACE delivery
- Tata Steel
- Community Union
- John Pentland (Lab) - Motherwell and Wishaw (North Lanarkshire - Dalzell)
- James Kelly (Lab) - Rutherglen (South Lanarkshire - Clydebridge)
- Clare Adamson (SNP nominee) – Regional Member for Central (Dalzell)
- Margaret Mitchell (Con nominee) - Regional Member for Central (Dalzell)
- Lab regional list nominee
- Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Clydebridge) – Margaret Ferrier MP (SNP)
- Motherwell and Wishaw (Dalzell) – Marion Fellows (SNP)
UK Government - Scotland Office
- Representative of Secretary of State for Scotland