Reverend and the Makers hit right note with Unite to save UK steel

Sheffield indie chart stars Reverend and the Makers have hit the right notes with union Unite in a bid to save UK steel.

The band – fronted by The Reverend, Jon McClure – has pledged support for the union’s campaign for a just transition for the steel industry and a boost to jobs.

Today he called on the public to join him, saying it was particularly important for Sheffield.

Jon said: “I think we've got to do everything we can to safeguard the industry because it provides so many jobs and is also literally Sheffield’s heritage. It's the thing Sheffield was founded upon and influences in so many ways the music that has come from the city.

Jarvis Cocker has got a great theory: He says the bass is louder in Sheffield music because we all practice right next to the steelworks. Martyn Ware from Heaven 17 and Human League talks about music concrète. It is this idea that the early synthesiser music, the birth of British electronica, come to sort of sound like the drop forges in the steelworks that we heard growing up.”

Jon, whose band hits including Heavy Weight Champion of the World, He Said He Loved Me, and this summer’s Top 10 album, Heatwave in the Cold North, said he agreed with Unite’s calls to transform and secure the steel industry.

He said: “I think the main issues are firstly procurement, I mean I can't understand why we're not using British steel for everything that we build in this country. That seems logical to me.

“Second issue is to, tackle energy prices, which I think are obviously soaring out of control. For me, things like public ownership is a solution to this and I can’t understand why we’ve not looked into that.”

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy.

It is campaigning with voters in key steel towns, including Sheffield, Scunthorpe, Port Talbot and Middlesbrough, to demand politicians from all parties commit to the union’s Workers’ Plan for Steel. A petition calling on all UK political parties to support the plan has already reached more than 10,000 signatures.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s Workers’ Plan for Steel shows politicians have the opportunity to make the UK a world leader in steel production – we will be doing everything in our power to make sure they grasp it.”

The plan makes key demands that if delivered would make Britain a world leader in steel production.

Unite is campaigning to urge steel community voters to join in the union’s call for politicians to commit to four pledges:

1. Change procurement rules to let UK public contracts use 100 per cent UK steel. This alone can create 8,000 jobs.

2. Public investment for a Steelworkers’ Transition Plan with NO loss of jobs. Phased workers’ transition to Green Steel – while doubling capacity to rebuild our industry and grow jobs. The investment needed is £1 billion per year over 12 years and it will pay for itself with increased revenue.

3. Tackle energy prices. Bring in electricity price caps and public ownership of the grid to make our steel even more competitive.

4. Take a stake. No more money for nothing. Public investment for steel must come with solid job guarantees.