The future of Britain’s steel industry is in jeopardy. The multinational Corus announced plans for another 366 job cuts at its Scunthorpe plant last week.
This follows the announcement of 2,000 job cuts just a week earlier – including 500 in Scunthorpe.
Ian Davies, the Community union rep at Corus in Scunthorpe, told Socialist Worker. “Most people in Scunthorpe know someone who works at Corus or who has worked there. There is widespread fear for the future of the industry.”
Planned cuts will also hit Corus workers at other sites – including Teesside, Rotherham, South Yorkshire and Port Talbot and Llanwern in South Wales.
Union officials are not challenging the job cuts – they are trying to secure voluntary rather than compulsory or “hard” redundancies.
But the lesson so far seems to be that accepting cuts simply encourages bosses to try and cut more.
The situation is not straightforward. “People are angry that Corus has come back to attack more jobs but there isn’t really a fear factor about the latest cuts,” said Ian.
“The new cuts are in the main production area and, with an ageing workforce, many see it as an opportunity to take voluntary redundancy.
“But the previous 500 job losses that were announced are managerial, technical and clerical jobs.
“There are only 2,000 of these jobs in total so the cuts represent a quarter of the workers and there’s a real prospect of hard redundancies.”
Earlier this month Corus announced its intention to close the British Steel Pension Scheme to new workers. It wants to replace it with a stakeholder pension scheme which transfers all risk to the workers.
But there is the potential for a fight at Corus. “We petitioned in the town centre on Saturday against the job losses and got lots of signatures,” said Ian.
“The unions have called a demonstration in Redcar for Saturday of this week and we’ll be taking a bus from Scunthorpe.
“There is a mood developing that we need to fight now. The unions should build a national campaign to save jobs.”
Save Our Steel
Save Our Steel march in Teesside,
Saturday 18 July. Assemble Majuba Road Car Park, Redcar, 12 noon, March at 2pm to rally at Redcar Clock
Johnnie Walker protest
Unite has called a demonstration against 900 job cuts in the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and its distillery at Port Dundas in Glasgow on Sunday 26 July, leaves 1pm from Howard Park, Kilmarnock. March to rally at the Kay Park