A MAJOR campaign aimed at securing Government support to save Northumberland’s biggest private sector employer from closure has been launched by the trade unionists.
The GMB hopes the Save Our Smelter (SOS) campaign will show ministers the strength of feeling about the potentially devastating consequences of the loss of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium plant at Lynemouth.
The union is asking all Alcan employees, local residents, businesses and other organisations to back the campaign by signing a mass petition and displaying SOS posters.
It will present the petition to the Government early in the New Year as part of its call for ministers to step and help avoid the closure of the smelter, where 512 people work.
The campaign launch comes as Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery prepares to meet Energy Secretary Chris Huhne this week in a bid to find out what role the coalition Government can play in the battle to save the smelter.
Yesterday Mr Lavery gave his full backing to the SOS campaign – but again questioned what he described as Rio Tinto’s “bizarre” attitude to attempts to secure a future for the Lynemouth operation.
The company proposes to close the 512-job smelter and sell the coal-fired power station at Lynemouth, where a further 111 people work.
Last week the GMB accused Rio Tinto bosses of not doing enough to keep the smelter open, claiming they had rejected one offer because they felt it was not financially viable, while interest from other parties had failed to progress even to talks.