Steelworkers' union Community backs fracking in UK

Welder working on a tank for fracking Image copyright Getty Images

The main steelworkers' union has backed plans for fracking in the UK.

The Community union says the fracking industry will need significant volumes of steel, which will help to protect jobs in the sector.

It has signed an agreement with the body that represents the UK onshore oil and gas industry to promote domestic production and protect jobs.

Community, which has around 30,000 members, is one of the few trade unions backing fracking.

The UK's third biggest union, the GMB union, also intends to organise in the sector.

But a number of other main unions, including PCS and UCU, are opposed to the industry on environmental grounds.

"The future development of home-grown oil and gas has the potential to support thousands of jobs through its supply chain, including in the steel industry," says Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of Community.

Clash with Labour

The fracking industry will need to drill hundreds, perhaps thousands of wells, to produce significant volumes of gas. That represents a huge opportunity for the struggling steel industry, which will want to supply the steel casings used in oil and gas wells.

Plans for fracking have been approved in two locations in the north of England, potentially creating up to 64,500 jobs, according to a recent industry report.

But while the Community union is affiliated to Labour, its endorsement of fracking is at odds with Labour Party policy.

At the party's conference in September, the shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner said Labour would ban fracking outright if elected.

The GMB union described the policy as "madness", saying it would leave the UK reliant on "henchman, hangmen and headchoppers" for imported gas.

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