Steel union lobbies for single currency entry

The UK’s biggest steel union has launched a pro-euro campaign to persuade its members and the public that the UK should join the single currency.

The Iron and Steel Trade Confederation, which has 35,000 members, will distribute pro-euro literature in towns and cities with steel industry links. It will also call on local exporting businesses to support euro entry.

General secretary Michael Leahy said: ‘The government has said it will hold a referendum on the euro when the time is right. But we want to begin persuading people now, otherwise when there is a referendum they might not understand how much the UK would lose if there is a no vote.’

The campaign was launched last week in Cardiff at a regional conference attended by 100 members from across the UK, and the union aims to run the campaign until the day of the referendum vote.

Leaflets are being printed at the moment, and the union is hiring a campaign director, though no overall budget for the campaign has been made public.

The union will be campaigning in cities such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Swansea, Cardiff, Hartlepool and Newport, as well as in towns throughout the north west. Asked if the pro-euro MP for Hartlepool, former cabinet minister Peter Mandelson, would join the campaign an ISTC spokesman said: ‘We hope so.’

But it appears that other pro-euro unions will not be working with the ISTC.

The AAEU and the MSF, soon to merge, have both said that they will not be formally involved.

The ISTC will also find support mixed among business leaders. A spokesman for steel manufacturer Corus said that although entry would help its business, it preferred not to support the ISTC openly.

But chairman and chief executive of Sheffield-based Forgemasters Steel and Engineering, David Fletcher, said he was ready for his company to endorse the campaign formally. He said: ‘We are a truly global business.

‘Steel is a growing business globally, but because of the strong pound steel imports in the UK have now exceeded domestic production. I think we are very much in favour of early entry. You cannot have a single market without a single currency.’