TORONTO, Oct. 30, 2013 /CNW/ - U.S. Steel's announcement that it will end steelmaking in Hamilton is a letdown for all Canadians, says Ken Neumann, USW National Director.
"Steelworkers might not be surprised by this shutdown and U.S. Steel's string of broken promises, but Canadians should be concerned. All Canadians should be worried about our federal government's lack of action on massive steel imports while letting our homegrown industry wither and die," said Neumann.
"This is about jobs, but not only about jobs. Hamilton is steel town. Its identity is anchored in the Hamilton steel industry. It's very sad to see that fading," said Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director.
"This shutdown is particularly disappointing because U.S. Steel had committed to a level of steel production and jobs in Canada - commitments it never kept," said Neumann. "We need the federal government to do more than simply say 'it's a business decision and we don't get involved'."
"The federal government knows U.S. Steel broke its promises. After it was clear U.S. Steel had abandoned its 2007 commitments under the Investment Canada Act, the federal government took legal action, but then backed down and settled out of court in 2011 in a scandalous betrayal of Canadian interests," said Neumann.
The federal government took U.S. Steel to court in 2009 for reneging on legally binding commitments - made under the Investment Canada Act - to maintain 3,105 employees and produce more than 13 million tons of steel in Canada.
Preliminary court rulings repeatedly confirmed the government had a legitimate case against U.S. Steel. But rather than hold U.S. Steel to account, the Conservative government dropped the case and accepted U.S. Steel's drastic cuts to Canadian jobs and production.
The Conservatives negotiated an out-of-court settlement with U.S. Steel that reportedly included investment and production and commitments through 2015, and at least $50 million in investment in Hamilton and Nanticoke.
"The reality is, the Conservatives struck a secret deal that allows U.S. Steel to forever abandon steelmaking in Hamilton," said Warren.
Steelworkers have long argued the federal government can do more than watch as jobs disappear and foreign companies gain competitive advantage by undercutting international standards.
Stakeholders and the public need the chance to provide input on trade deals and foreign takeovers in order to protect Canadian jobs and resources.
"It's time unions and communities have the right to file trade complaints to protect Canadian jobs, our standard of living and our environment," said Neumann.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director 416-544-5951
Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 519-504-9099
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org