Steel protesters call for EU help

Media caption,
Steelworkers from south Wales called for a level playing field while Jyrki Katainen, European Commission vice president, said quite a lot was being done to help

Thousands of steel industry workers have been protesting in Brussels in support of their ailing industry.

Hundreds of workers from the UK were among those pressing for the European Commission to tackle cheap Chinese steel being "dumped" across Europe.

Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations, also joined the protest.

He said: "The situation facing Tata Steel and other European steelmakers is perilous."

Mr Koehler added: "If the European Commission does not take immediate and robust action, thousands of jobs in the industry, and many more thousands in the wider supply chain, will be threatened."

In January, Tata Steel confirmed that it would cut more than 1,000 jobs in the UK, including 750 at Port Talbot, the UK's biggest steelworks.

Media caption,
As China's growth has slowed, it has exported more of its steel

Mr Koehler said that the industry was "not asking for special treatment".

"We are asking for the European Commission to stand up for fair trade and to give European steelmakers a chance to compete on a level playing field," he added.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: "We are taking action on energy costs, public procurement and industrial emissions at home to help the steel sector, but this is a global problem requiring a global solution."

Image source, AFP

She called for "swifter investigations into dumping and the tariffs then being set at the right level".

Gareth Stace, director of trade body UK Steel, told BBC Radio 5 live that the protest in Brussels was an "unprecedented situation" due to workers and chief executives attending, and he called for "swift, firm and decisive action to tackle the ongoing steel crisis".

"We want to see the European Commission speeding up the investigation process. We want whatever they come up with in terms of tariffs to be meaningful and have teeth and actually tackle the problem to stem the flood of Chinese steel."