The members of three key trade unions with close links to the UK steel industry have voted in favour of Tata Steel’s proposal on pensions, jobs, investment and production.
Over 70% of members of Community, Unite and GMB voted ‘yes’ to the proposals.
Dave Hulse, national officer for GMB commented, “Now that steelworkers have done their bit, it is time for the government to step up and do theirs.”
According to Hulse, thousands of skilled jobs rely on steelmaking and the industry supports the whole UK manufacturing structure.
Unite’s national officer Tony Brady said, “This is not a decision our members have taken lightly. It has been a hellish time for them, their families and their communities as uncertainty has swirled around the steel industry over this past year or more.”
Brady said that steelmakers had made great sacrifices to ensure the UK’s world class steel industry has a future. “Those sacrifices must be repaid by Tata Steel honouring its commitments on investment and job security,” he said, adding that anything less would be a betrayal ‘and add to the deep mistrust that steelworkers now have for the company’.
"The UK government in Westminster must also repay the sacrifices and the commitment shown by steelworkers to their industry by stepping up to support steel and secure its future.
Recent talk of steel being a low priority for UK government ministers in Brexit negotiations is shameful,” he added.
Brady believes that the UK government must work in lockstep with the Welsh Government and put steel at the heart of a manufacturing industrial strategy which ensures UK steel is used in all major infrastructure and defence projects.
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: "This result provides a mandate from our members to move forward in our discussions with Tata and find a sustainable solution for the British Steel Pension Scheme.
"Steelworkers have taken a tough decision and have shown they are determined to safeguard jobs and secure the long-term future of steelmaking.
"Nobody wanted to be in this situation, but as we have always said, it is vital that we now work together to protect the benefits already accrued and prevent the BSPS from free-falling into the PPF.
Rickhuss said that the ballot involved ‘an extremely personal decision for everyone that voted’.
“Whichever way our members cast their votes, we know they will not have taken that decision lightly and everyone’s opinions must be respected.
"We now expect Tata to make good on their promises and deliver the investment plan for the whole of their steel business.”
He said that the UK Government still has an important role to play. “We fully expect them to deliver tangible support for steelmaking in the UK," he said.