Steel workers' union calls for a halt to Forth Road Bridge project

3 February 2012

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3 February 2012 | Adam Leach

Scottish steel workers’ union Community has called on first minister Alex Salmond to halt the procurement process for the Forth Road Bridge replacement crossing after it was announced that none of the steel supplies would come from domestic contractors.

In a letter to the country’s first minister, published yesterday, general secretary of Community Michael Leahy, said: “I was shocked to hear that no Scottish or UK steel would be used as part of this flagship infrastructure project and I was confused to see the statement that ‘no Scottish firms bid’ to supply the steel.”

On 27 February, it was announced that a £790 million contract for 37,000 tonnes of steel had been awarded to Chinese and European firms and no Scottish contractors had competed in the tender process. However, according to Community, the Tata Steel Europe plant in Dalzell, Scotland, was part of a consortium of steel contractors.

Leahy’s letter went on to say: “It seems there has been an over-emphasis on cost at the expense of a focus on value to Scottish industries and communities.

“Our members at Tata Steel’s Dalzell site were shocked and angered when they heard the news as they believe that their site has the capability and capacity to supply at least some of the steel that the Forth Replacement Crossing project requires.”

Leahy called on Salmond to suspend the Forth Replacement Project until a review of the procurement process is carried out.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "The reality is that Scottish firms simply did not bid for the fabrication of steel for the Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC). The award of recent steel supply contracts for the FRC was for structural steelwork fabricators and not the manufacture of raw steel.

“It is the responsibility of the structural steelwork fabricators to source the steel required from the raw steel makers that meets the contract specifications. No Scottish structural steelwork fabricators bid for the work.

“Transport minister Keith Brown will, of course, be happy to meet with the chief executive of Tata to discuss the issue.”

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