Today Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Owen Smith, visited Redcar to meet former SSI steelworkers and young apprentices with local Labour MP Anna Turley.
Owen and Anna started the afternoon at Community Union offices at Cargo Fleet in South Bank where former steelworkers and union officials recounted the fight to save the steelworks and their experience of redundancy and the death of their industry on Teesside.
They then visited technical training company, TTE, to meet former SSI apprentices and other young people starting out on their careers in engineering and other vocations.
Owen took part in a training session with some students and talked with them about their ambitions for the future.
Speaking after the visit, Anna said:
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to welcome Owen to Redcar and to introduce him to some of the men working to rebuild their lives after the closure of the steelworks. Whilst some have found new work, many are still struggling to access the training and support they need to move forward. It was good that Owen could hear these issues first-hand and I know he will help make sure Teesside’s case continues to be heard in Parliament.
“I was also pleased the tremendous work of Community Union in supporting the workforce throughout this crisis was recognised by Labour’s shadow ministerial team.
“At TTE, Owen was really impressed by the facilities on offer and was keen to hear from the apprentices about what they hoped to achieve following their training. As we begin to look to the future and the challenge of regenerating the local economy, resources like TTE educating a new generation of electricians, engineers and technicians will be a key part of attracting new industries here.”
Paul Warren, an organiser for Community, the steelworkers’ union said:
“Meeting with Owen Smith and Anna Turley today was a good opportunity to voice our concerns about how former SSI steelworkers are struggling to access training and help from Job Centre Plus and the National Careers services. The TV cameras might have left Redcar, but we still have thousands of families struggling to get by and former steelworkers still looking for work. Both Owen and Anna clearly understand the problems still facing our town and will continue to be strong voices for Redcar and the whole UK steel industry in Parliament. In particular, it was encouraging to hear that Labour fully understands the need for changes in employment legislation to protect contractor workers. When SSI collapsed, it was the contractor staff who were too often forgotten, we need to change the law to make sure they have the same protection as those people directly employed.”