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25 November 2015, 06:52
The Scottish Government must commit to preserving assets and jobs at two closure-threatened steel plants until a new commercial operator can be found, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said.
Ms Dugdale wants "immediate action'' to save 270 jobs at Tata Steel's plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang as the 45-day consultation period announced by the firm last month comes to an end.
The Government set up a task force following the announcement, with a focus on finding a new commercial operator for Tata's Lanarkshire plants. It will meet for the third time on Thursday.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with steel workers at the Dalzell plant in Motherwell, Ms Dugdale said: "The steel industry is iconic in Lanarkshire. It has not only sustained jobs and boosted the local economy, it's part of Lanarkshire's DNA.
"We cannot let the light go out on the industry without a fight.
"When Ferguson's was going down, the Scottish Government stepped in. When Prestwick was about to close, the Scottish Government stepped in.
"If we are serious about saving the Scottish steel industry we need a positive commitment from the SNP government that they will preserve both the industrial assets and the skills of the workforce while a new commercial operator is found.''
Ms Dugdale said ministers must "present answers on exactly what they will do to ensure Dalzell and Clydebridge have a future'' when the taskforce meets again on Thursday.
"With just over a week until Tata Steel's 45-day consultation period comes to an end, time is running out for the workers at the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants,'' she said.
"The SNP government must also take a broader look at the future of traditional industries in Scotland. From shipbuilding to oil and gas to steel, too many industries have been rocked by rapid global forces.
"We need a comprehensive, forensic review into how we secure the future of these industries. Instead of simply fire-fighting, the SNP government should work with businesses and trade unions to develop a long-term, active industrial strategy.
"Steel can have a bright future in Scotland and right across the UK. It needs immediate government action to make that a reality.''