Glasgow & West Scotland

March and rally to support Dalzell and Clydebridge steel plants

Image caption The marchers set off from the Dalzell works in Motherwell

Supporters of the two threatened Scottish steel plants have been marching through Motherwell in North Lanarkshire.

They are calling for action by the Scottish and UK governments to protect the industry and its jobs.

About 300 marchers set off at 11:00 from the Dalzell works, heading to Ravenscraig for a rally.

Up to 270 jobs could be lost after Tata Steel announced plans to mothball the plants.

A total of 225 jobs are threatened at the Dalzell plate-rolling works in Motherwell, along with 45 posts at the Clydebridge plant in Cambuslang.

The company blames cheap Chinese imports and high energy costs for a collapse in steel prices. The Scottish government has assembled a taskforce to try to guarantee a future for the plants.

'Upbeat' mood

Community union representative Derek Fearon said: "We are trying to raise awareness of the campaign, and hopefully through this Tata will become a responsible seller.

"The main aim of the task force, the priority of it, is for the two plants to remain open.

"The mood is upbeat, the guys are still positive that everything can be done for the two plants to be saved."

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One steel worker told BBC Scotland the protest was good for morale as they fight for their jobs.

"We're marching to keep the situation here at Tata in the public eye. To keep people reminded that it's affecting all of us and it's affecting all our families," he said.

"It's looking optimistic today seeing all the support."

The Scottish government has pledged to do everything possible to keep the plants operational, with its preferred option being to find a buyer.

Public ownership

However, ministers have not ruled out moves to bring both facilities under public ownership.

A Scottish Steel Task Force, chaired by business minister Fergus Ewing, and including representatives from trade unions and Tata, as well as local councils, met last week to discuss the way forward.

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland, himself a former steelworker and one of the march organisers, said the Scottish government should facilitate a public ownership option, similar its intervention at Prestwick airport.

He said: "What we're hoping for today is solidarity to show strength for the workers who could potentially lose their jobs.

"The reality is, it's not their fault they're in this position. It's because of the consequence of the global market. What we believe is that if you can save a job in Prestwick, it's certainly worth saving jobs here in Clydebridge."

Local SNP MP Marion Fellows said there was more the UK government could be doing - including tackling the issue of Chinese "dumping" of cheap steel and looking at energy rebates.

She said there was still optimism that a buyer could be found for the plants.

"The feeling at the Scottish government task force was very positive." she said.

"No-one is looking yet at trying to say this place is finished. They are really trying very hard to find a buyer and to make it more sustainable for the future."

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