Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/588/7547

From The Socialist newspaper, 21 July 2009

Action to save steel jobs

LEADING UP to the autumn of 2008, Corus, Tata Steel's European arm, was riding on the crest of a wave with a healthy order book. Then the steel industry hit capitalism's self-constructed brick wall. With orders for steel collapsing, amid the turmoil created by the banking crisis, the standing down of blast furnaces at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot was announced.

A steel worker

Corus then began a cost-saving initiative called "Weathering the Storm". A new way was promised, one that would not include the 'slash and burn' of previous downturns in demand. The workforce were asked to suggest ways of saving money. This led to over 180 million being saved throughout the UK business.

However, it wasn't long before the inevitable suggestion of wage cuts reared its ugly head. Shift premiums were cut to suit demand and the cries of "let's all share the pain" were heard everywhere.

'Restructuring'

After Christmas 2008, with no agreement in place for reduction in wages, an announcement of job losses came under the guise of restructuring. Over 3,500 redundancies were announced with Rotherham being decimated to the tune of 700 job losses and the Hot Strip Mill at Llanwern being mothballed.

On top of this there was a proposal to close the pension scheme to new entrants. Corus also announced that it was selling its major stake in Teesside Cast Products (TCP) for around 320 million.

The New Labour government did nothing to help, despite pleas from local MPs. The company continued on its cost-cutting measures and in March 2009 an agreement was reached with trade union national officers for local site negotiations to take place which would look at savings, including employment costs.

This took the form of a 'Framework Agreement' with Port Talbot and Scunthorpe at the forefront. At Port Talbot there were moves to suspend bonus payments for one year but a ballot of trade union members was cancelled due to an upturn in demand from the car industry.

During this period of local negotiations came the bombshell of the mothballing of steel production at Teesside. This was due to the collapse of the deal to sell TCP and the consortium of four separate steel producers walking away from a ten-year agreement to purchase slab from Teesside.

At Scunthorpe an agreement was reached which would suspend bonus payments, see the return of shift premiums and a possible salary cut of 4% if specific savings targets were not achieved each quarter. This agreement would guarantee no job losses for 12 months.

With just a few days to go before the workforce ballot was due to begin came the shocking news of further redundancies.

Over 2,000 jobs were to be lost with Scunthorpe and South Yorkshire taking over half of these. Trade unions at Scunthorpe immediately cancelled the ballot and were warned that further job cuts would result from this action. The trade unions took the view that the agreement was now seriously flawed and that they could not continue it.

The government lamely announced that it would provide 5 million for the training of the workers being made redundant. This is paltry compared to the billions that have been thrown at the financial sector. The difference between hard hats and bowler hats has never been more pronounced.

Then, on 9 July, a further 366 redundancies were announced at Scunthorpe and 149 at Port Talbot. This brings the total for the year at over 8,000, which is almost one-third of the UK workforce.

What we are witnessing is the slow death of the UK steel industry. Immediate action is required to save what is a significant contributor to UK industrial output.

Community union, supported by Unite, has launched a Save Our Steel campaign, primarily aimed at the Redcar works. It is hoped that this will develop into a national campaign to persuade the government to step in and secure steel production in this country.

Instead of waiting for market conditions to improve, the government should renationalise steel and develop a plan for production which includes the construction and car industries.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 21 July 2009:

Corus... Vestas... Defend every job!


No Job Cuts

Vestas: Support the occupation

Vestas jobs fightback

Action to save steel jobs at Corus


Unison witchhunt

Defend the Four: Protest at the Unison witch-hunt

Unison witch-hunt verdict causes outrage amongst trade unionists


Youth fight for jobs

Youth fight for jobs fortnight of action


Workplace news

National strike action to halt attacks on workers and our postal services

Tube workers' action wins concessions

South Yorkshire First Buses strike over pay

London Met Uni strike

Every little helps Tesco's as they attack workers

Teachers strike against job cuts

Care homes public meeting


Pensions

Union action to fight the attacks on our pensions

Pensions - in brief

Pensions: We say


Anti-racism

BNP get police to arrest socialists

Lincoln fights back against racist BNP

Stop the BNP's 'festival' of hate

Rock Against Racism


Socialist Party campaigns

Keep Deptford Jobcentre open!

Build the Tamil Solidarity campaign

Devon residents against incinerators: Alternative waste schemes needed

Another stepping stone towards health privatisation


Marxist analysis: history

20th anniversary of Soviet miners' strike


Comment

40th anniversary of the moon landing What steps has humanity taken?


 

Home   |   The Socialist 21 July 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Corus:

triangleTata steel: Act now - fight for nationalisation

triangleConstruction workers fight pay cuts

Steel:

triangleNationalise Tata Steel to save jobs

triangleTata announces 1,000 job cuts - Steel unions must fight for every job!

triangleWales: Hundreds march to save the Orb works

triangleSave steel jobs: Demand socialist nationalisation

Jobs:

triangleA-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!

triangleCampaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

triangleGE Aviation workers march to save jobs

Teesside:

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: After the general election - Stand firm for socialist policies

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: Climate emergency; System change = Socialist change

Redundancies:

triangleDebenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

5/8/20

NHS

'First you clap us then you slap us'

5/8/20

Young Socialists

Young Socialist day of action

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Campaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

5/8/20

Black Lives Matter

North London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest

5/8/20

Hull

Engage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Why I joined - Covid changed my outlook

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Socialist Party meetings: Online and in-person

5/8/20

Young Socialists

A-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!

5/8/20

Caerphilly

GE Aviation workers march to save jobs

5/8/20

Trotsky

80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky rally

5/8/20

BAME

Fighting to end racism and capitalism

5/8/20

Doncaster

Doncaster: Vigil for murdered women

5/8/20

The Socialist

The Socialist summer schedule

5/8/20

Unite

Unite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts

5/8/20

BT

Oppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999