Around 100 workers at the Corus Steel company, who are members of the Community, Unite and GMB unions, attended a multi-union meeting in Scunthorpe on Friday of last week. Many workers were disappointed by the agenda.
They expected to discuss how to challenge management’s suspension of bonus payments to workers, which was done without consultation with the unions.
For many it would mean losing £2,000.
They also expected a discussion on how to fight planned job cuts. So many were shocked to find that a fightback was not on the agenda.
“The national officials had met with management that morning,” said Martin Copson, a Unite convenor at the Scunthorpe site.
“They told us that management has agreed to pay the bonuses at an unspecified time in the future.
“I went along expecting to be discussing organising a demonstration over the threatened job cuts and starting a national ballot over them. But there was no discussion on jobs.”
Corus has already cut more than 3,500 jobs in Britain this year. The firm is threatening to cut hundreds more.
For some plants, like the one in Teesside, the plans put their very future in jeopardy.
Many workers want to fight the job losses. Some 5,000 protested in Redcar in the north east of England last month.
“The union portrayed the promise to pay bonuses as a big victory,” said Martin. “But I don’t think we’ll ever see that bonus. Workers are angry and prepared to fight but the national officials are taking the momentum away.
“The mood among the local community is fantastic. We’re now looking to build a support group for the workers to try and shift the union that way.”
There is a mood among Corus workers to fight—but union leaders are squandering it.
Building up strong rank and file resistance is the key to changing that.